Tempeh or Indonesians call it tempe is a common food in Indonesia. Tempe is available in every supermarkets, traditional markets, and mobile markets. Since it is inexpensive, it is often included when people express impecuniousness. The example is: "That family only eat tempeh and tofu for every meal". Seven years ago when I was still living in East Java, the price of a meal (without rice) made out of tempeh was 1000 rupiah (10 cents), and the price of fried chicken was 2000-2500 rupiah (20-25 cents). At that time, I often collected coins from my pants' pockets when I wanted to buy tempeh for dinner. It's really inexpensive!
In the United States, especially in a city that has few Southeast Asians, tempeh and other soy products are expensive. A pack of tempeh (about 350 gr) cost almost $3 at an oriental grocery store in town. One day my friends and I had lunch at one Thai restaurant. My friend picked tofu curry but asked the waitress to change the tofu to chicken. I was surprised when the waitress noded her head, then I realize where I was. Tofu is more expensive than chicken, do is tempeh. In addition, some friends told me that they some tempehs they found from regular grocery store are not fermented soy but crushed-soy cake. I never found one like that, but it is possible considering tempeh is nonindigenous food here.
Since my parents' coming, I'd thought of making tempeh after finishing my thesis. The best time to make tempeh is in summer, and I've passed half of it. My plan is to have reserved packs of tempeh in my freezer that last until winter. My first try wasn't as successful as I wanted. The tempeh was over fermented because I have to work that day. Yeah, I miscalculated the time. I was worried if I had to waste all of my hardwork, until I found an Indonesian cook blog. The blog discussed about tempe semangit or tempe bongkrek, which means purposely over-fermented tempeh that Javanese likes to use to make sambal tumpang. I was never interested in tempe bongkrek, but I think I do now
Hubby told me that my tempeh was not tempe bongkrek. tempe bongkrek that he knew had a dark color and pungent smell. I googled it, and he was right. The making of tempe bongkrek involves coconut. For further information read this.