Thursday, June 20, 2013

Bali and Sambal Goreng Tempeh

I recently went on a little bit of a journey of self discovery slash mother-daughter holiday to Bali.
I have long wanted to go to a health retreat and the ones here in Australia are on the more expensive side. Having said that, I'm sure they are entirely comprehensive and well worth the money. I decided to look overseas as I love to travel and I'm trying to save to buy a house.

One fine morning, I checked my inbox as I often do. There, like an omen, was a Groupon offer for two people to spend 5 days in a resort in Bali for $250. The offer included daily yoga classes, a one hour massage, a floral bath, daily breakfasts and a dolphin cruise. Well, that was an easy choice.

I had to work a little in the weeks beforehand to get into the mindset that flying wasn't going to kill me. In the last few years I have developed a fear of flying even though I have flown more in the last few years than I ever have before. This involved sessions of reiki and guided meditation with the wonderful Mandi at Blue Fire Reiki as well as self hypnosis. I must say, that spending so much time being mindful really made such a big difference. I did talk about this more in a previous post, so I won't go into the whole tornado of emotions I experienced on the plane ride there.

Once we landed in Bali, it was dusk. We got in a personal car with a lovely driver who took us the two and a half hours north to Lovina from Denpassar. Weaving through all these lovely little towns was quite interesting, as our first understandings of this lovely culture emerged in the darkness.

The Hamsa Resort is on the side of a mountain vally, and in the day time gives superb views of the ocean. The ocean and the sky were often the same colour so it was hard to tell where the sky began and the ocean stopped.

Once at the resort, we were greeted with fresh coconut juice in the shell and gorgeous fresh, local fruits. I could live forever on that fruit. Honestly. After learning that the internet was down and coming to the realisation that we heavily rely on it, we sat and drank ginger tea and made plans for the week.

5:30 on Sunday morning saw us being picked up by our driver, Bob Bali, again in the darkness. We were taken down to Lovina beach and in the early rays of the morning, lead into a small handmade boat.
The boat took me, my mother and a lovely girl from Brisbane out into the middle of the ocean to await the dolphins that often come to play. The locals often say that the dolphins come to see the people, as opposed to the other way around. Here, in little Ol' Adelaide, we have dolphins in the Port River and along our beaches. The dolphins in Bali were so small in comparison but just as playful and powerful as they swam around us. It's just gorgeous to see animals in their natural habitats, despite the dozens of boats that were there to see them.
I must say here that all over the north of Bali, I saw the word "Ecotourism". Many of the local people seemed to be making money off of taking tourists to naturally occurring gorgeousness, like waterfalls, diving and seeing these dolphins. I really appreciated how these people did this as not only did they not destroy the natural habitat in anyway. The boats never got too close to the dolphins, always maintaining a safe distance for both us and the dolphins.

From the boat we saw the sun rise over Lovina. That was our first glimpse of Bali.

Later that day, we went into the town and did a little shopping. The locals were saying that they don't really make much money these days (post bombings). I did a little googling when we finally got the internet back and discovered that the minimum wage of people living in Bali is $25 a week. This is crazy and so hard to imagine. After that, I made sure to be as generous as I could, within reason. This did lead me to think that we here in Australia really don't need as much as we think we do.

Lovina is a lovely little town that has it's very own Vegetarian/Vegan Cafe. It was beautifully decorated and they cooked up a delicious assortment of delights. The mains cost about $3.50 each. All the people I spoke to in Bali about being Vegan were very understanding and some were even in awe. I met a few vegetarian locals who were very friendly.

Monday morning we practised yoga at 6:45 on the top of the main building at Hamsa, with the fresh winds and views of the town and ocean. Scuba diving was the adventure of this day. My mum had never been scuba diving before and despite initial doubts, she decided to take the plunge. With a quick crash course, we were diving along the side of a 40 meter coral cliff face, seeing the rainbow of beautiful see creatures below the rain above. It cost about $150 all up, for mum to have a lesson on how to dive, for us both to have two one hour dives and a big lunch. I had a buddy to dive with and we went off on some amazing adventures, whilst mum learned how to breath underwater.

The next day we went to a cooking class. This class was with Adjanibali and it was so informative. We learned so much and they showed us all the amazing vegetables and herbs they grew in their garden. He had a cacao tree. So jealous.

So this is what I am going to show you today. I must say, I suck at deep frying things, so I half deep fried the tempe and then popped it in the oven and although it didn't taste as crispy as I remember, it's still pretty damn good. More about that in a minute.

Sambal Goreng Tempeh
Time: About half an hour.
Serves: 4 small servings. 


  • One packet of tempeh.
  • Coconut oil.
  • One onion, sliced.
  • About 4 cloves of garlic.
  • One teaspoon of cumin. 
  • One large red chilli.
  • Two kaffir lime leaves.
  • About 1 Tablespoon of tamarind paste.
  • About 1 Tablespoon of sugar substitute. They used palm sugar. In recreating this today, I used rice syrup.
  • About 1 Tablespoon of Kecap manis (sweet soy sauce.)

Slice the tempeh so that it is in long thin strips, so as in the photo above and then slice again, lengthways. Slice the onions. The original recipe calls for deep frying these in coconut oil. From what I can remember, it would have been about two cups of coconut oil in a relatively hot wok. I didn't use enough oil today (only about 2 tablespoons), and so mine was more of a shallow fry which kinda worked, but I decided to put the mixture into a pan and put it in the oven to see if I could get it crispier.

For the sauce you can either use the old school mortar and pestle as we did in the class, or you can whack out your trusty, smallish food processor. Add the garlic and the chilli first and buzz until well chopped. 

Then add the cumin, tamarind paste, sugar substitute and one to two Tablespoons of warm water. give it a good whirl until it's blitzed. 

Back to the wok. Remove the previously used oil and pop in about 1 Tablespoon of the fresh stuff (coconut oil, that is.) Add the kaffir lime leaves (found at all asian groceries and you can even buy the plants at many hardware stores). Add the sauce and stir for a quick minute. Add the tempeh and fry for another minute or so. Stir in the Kecap Manis, adding more if you like it sweet.

Serve with rice, or broccoli or even in a wrap. 

I hope you like this one. Be careful with the frying. One thing I learned today is that when you get spat on with coconut oil, it hurts a lot less than the other oils. I guess because it burns at a lower temperature. Rad.   


  1. Sally, wow, your trip sounds amazing! I would love to go on that sort of holiday. I keep entering competitions in the hope of winning something :) Looking forward to hearing about the rest of your week x

  2. I love tempeh! Cousins my age used to think I was weird loving this beany goodness growing up, until it became 'cool' to eat healthily!
    Glad you came up with an easy tempeh goreng recipe - I'm gonna make this and have it with just plain boiled rice. Simplicity.

  3. Btw, loved reading about your fabulous mum/daughter Bali holiday! 🌺

    1. Oh, you are a sweetheart. I never liked tempeh up until I tasted it in Bali. It was so fresh compared to what I had tried here. I love this recipe though. It's so delicious. :) x

    2. It's easier to find ready fermented tempeh in Australia. But I have to admit the tempeh back home has a better flavor and is pressed-fermented in banana leaves and in thinner patties, making it easier to deep fry. Tempeh (fried) is part of gado-gado recipe too.

  4. Hey, Sally. I enjoyed reading your blog and would love to do a similar kind of travel someday. I'd definitely try out your sambal goreng recipe soon. I love tempehs.

    1. Hi Nomi. Lovely to meet you and thank you for your kind words. I hope you like it. Take care. :) x