Sambal tempe teri is an Indonesian spicy dish of fermented soybean cake (tempe/tempeh) and dried anchovies (ikan teri or ikan bilis).
My version of sambal is simpler than the traditional version. Most of the ingredients that I used can be easily found in the mainstream shops except for the white dried anchovies (ikan teri Medan). While many people prefer the soft and chewy texture of white dried anchovies for sambals, I had also cooked tempeh and teri sambal with the more widely available brown dried anchovies a few times in the past and the resulting sambals were just as delicious.
With the amount of oil and salt that it contains, I cannot say that this sambal is the healthiest way to eat tempeh. But, sambals are not meant to be eaten in large quantities and anchovies are relatively high in calcium as we effectively eat an entire fish, bones and all, when we eat an anchovy. Also, we can choose to not add soy sauce and to rinse the dried anchovies multiple times to remove the excess salt. So, sambal tempe teri can be a small part of a healthy and nourishing diet.
To cook sambal tempe teri, start by rinsing 125g of dried anchovies (ikan teri). Strain and set the ikan teri aside to dry. Cut a 250g block of tempeh into bite-size pieces. Finely slice 1 clove of garlic and 1 small brown onion (If available, 2 red shallots or bawang merah are preferable). Slice 6-8 bird eye chillies thinly.
Heat about 2cm high of oil in a frying pan. Fry the tempeh pieces, turning once, until they turn brown. Drain the fried tempeh on a paper towel. Add a little more oil to the same pan (if needed) and shallow fry the ikan teri. Stir occasionally. Remove and drain the ikan teri when they appear a little bit drier and crispier.
Remove the oil from the pan, leaving about 1 tablespoon of oil in the pan. Place the garlic and onion in the hot frying pan. Stir fry until fragrant. Add the ikan teri and tempeh. Add ½ teaspoon of sugar and ½ teaspoon of light soy sauce. Mix well. Add the chillies. Stir the mixture until the chillies are softened. Serve the sambal with steamed rice as a side dish.