Tempoyak Pie and the Impotance of Failure: Part 1

I have completed and internship at a restaurant know for dabbling in the culinarily odd. I saw that my learning flourishes in unfamiliar territory.

Time to fail in fresh ways.

Let Me at 'Em

Let Me at ‘Em

Have you heard of durian, the fruit with a taste that the centuries have loathed with sound logic


or loved with nose pinned passion.


It is the smell. It is pungent and reminiscent of a young foot baller’s neglected clothes hamper.

Naturally, I had to ferment this funkiness into a vegan cheese cake.


Tempoyak = salt fermented durian, usually served with curry over rice in Malaysian cooking (not in cake).

Pure tempoyak, fermented one month with sea salt, topped my cheese cake. The flavor was intriguing and new. Less pungent and offensive in odor, but still sparky with hints of tang.  It hovered in a the confusing limbo between sweet and savory.


Layer two suffered the most experimentation. A pickled cashew cheese infused with fermented durian, clove, agar agar seaweed, and a little coconut sugar.

Agar agar field

Agar Agar Field

After a gentle simmer the agar activated creating gelatin style bind agent that imparts no flavor.

Pickle water soaked cashews, fermented fruit, and a seaweed binder. Invovative? maybe. Dessert… that is a stretch


The pale yellow top was a bit of a bore. A quick cinnamon stencil of the Coracao Chocolate double heart logo dressed it up.


O Yeah. I should mention at this point this cakes was to be served to the bay areas premier raw confectioners at a dinner party. A cake comprised of a fruit that, in its unfermented state, is banned from most Asian hotels, restaurants, and taxies.


I should also mention that I was also hopping they would consider me for an opening as an assistant chocolateer.

At this point, some how, I was still feeling confident.

Flash forward 3 hours, after a sumptuous dinner of all things pastured and local, and it was time for dessert.

“Ooooo’s” and “Aaaaa’s” filled the kitchen, but love soon ceased at first bite.

Reactions ranged from laughter to outright offence. My bosses partner was afraid she might be having an allergic reaction. Needlessly said, I was embarrassed. This was clearly a plant based face plant.


Out right failure. I need some inspiration really quick.

  • “A thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions, as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all.”  – Friedrich Nietzsche
  • “The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” – Julia Child
So my cake was gross, Wild and Crazy Kids would have shunned it.
But upon reflection, this fail cake was stuffed with tiny successes:
  • The cinnamon stencil was a nice and easy touch to use in the future
  • The agar agar held. The cake sat confidently at room temperature.
  • Tempoyak would be a great ferment for its Malaysian intention… savory dishes
  • No one was hospitalized
  • Cashews soaked and dehydrated in pickle juice are a nice snack by themselves

Failure is a matter of perspective. I will take these successes into my next ferment free cashew cream endeavour. Recipe to come next week.
durian_saveHe could be trying to save that durian or trying to rid himself of it. Either way he would be right.


One Comment on “Tempoyak Pie and the Impotance of Failure: Part 1”

  1. […] weeks have pasted since some raw vegan mad science went airy. Happy to report that I and no other eaters fell dead after partaking in my fermented […]

Comment Maybe?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s