Spiced Tempe in Banana Leaf

Origin: Middle of Java Province


  • 500 gr tempeh
  • 1 pc young coconut, freshly grated or 250 gr desiccated coconut
  • 100 gr dried anchovy, wash, set to drain
  • a handful fresh basil leaves (optional)
  • 10 pc salam leaves or bay leaves as subtitute
  • 2 cm fresh galingale, thinly sliced
  • 20 pc banana leaves ( ca. 20cm x 25cm ) to wrap
  • 300 ml thick coconut milk if desiccated coconut is used

Spice for the Paste

  • 5 pc shallots, chopped
  • 3 gloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 pc large red chillies, de-seeded, chopped
  • 3-5 pc small red chillies / bird chillies (if you like it hot)
  • 1 tsp palm sugar, shredded
  • 1 tsp salt ( or to taste)

Spiced Tempe in Banana Leaf

Botok is a typical dish which very popular in Central Java and East Java regions. There are many variations of Botok: Botok Tempeh, Botok Tahu, Botok Sembukan, Botok Kemangi, Botok Lamtoro etc..One of my favourite that I have known since my childhood time is Botok Tempe Teri. Tempeh which contains high protein, mixed with dried anchovies, freshly grated coconut spiced, then wrapped & steamed in banana leaves hhmmmm…….what a javanese culinary temptation !!
Making a Botok is not difficult and complicated as you might think. Are you curious to try?? If you don't like dried Anchovy then just take it away. In this case your Botok will be a good choice for Vegetarians.
Important Tipp: For those of you who live abroad where the fresh grated coconut is impossible to obtain, then you have to take desiccated coconut as a subtitute. The problem is desiccated coconut is maded from very old coconuts which contains no more coconut liquid as needed for this recipe. As a result, using desiccated coconut only will provide a very dry & almost tasteless Botok. But do not worry !!
After many times of "try & error" experiments, I found a simple trick to overcome this problem, at least to minimize the damaged 😉 Just add very thick coconut milk into the mixture. I assure you, your Botok texture will be soft, moisted and more tasty. Good luck…


  • Slice or cut the tempeh in small dice or matchsticks.
  • Put all ingredients for the paste in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  • Put together grated / desiccated coconut, tempeh, paste, dried anchovy and galingale in a large bowl. Mix well.
  • If you used the desiccated coconut, add coconut milk and mix all the mixture once again. Adjust the seasoning. Add salt or sugar if necessary.
  • Take 2 pcs banana leaves, stack to each other. Put 2-3 tbsp of the tempeh mixture in the middle of banana leaves.
  • Add bay leaf on the top then wrap it properly.
  • Secure the wrapping with tooth pick or stapler.
  • Steam it for 30 minutes since the steamer begins to sizzle until well cooked.

Additional Notes & Tipps

  • Fresh banana leaf is particularly stiff and easily torn when it is bent or fold. Therefore it is suggested to soften them before using. There are two ways in practice. Choose one which is easy & suitable for you.
  • 1. Soak the banana leaf in hot water about 3-5 minutes until the leaves are getting soft and change color slightly, then wipe it dry with a paper towel or a kitchen tissue to remove the dirt.
    2. Wash and heat over the steam cooker or pass it over the flame of a gas stove or a hot electric burner.
Keyword anchovy, banana leaves, Indonesia, red chillies, salam leaves, snack, tempeh, young coconut

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