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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Southeast Asian Marinated Fried Tofu with Pickled Daikon Radish and Carrot Slaw

The next recipe in the vegetarian meal series is a delicious, incredibly flavorful fried tofu.  It is marinated in delicious spicy, almost curry-like marinade commonly used in Cambodian cooking called kreungKreung, representative of Indian influence in Cambodian cuisine, is a seasoning paste that can vary in its ingredients but is generally made up of lemongrass, Thai birdseye chilies, garlic, galangal, shallots, and kaffir lime (leaf or juice), but may sometimes also include ingredients such as turmeric, cilantro and prahok (fermented fish paste).  It is used to flavor many meats and soups in the Cambodian kitchen.

This dish is very easy and delicious, especially with the pickled daikon and carrot slaw, which I absolutely love.  The slaw is slightly sweet, slightly tangy, and is bursting with a delicious garlicky flavor.  It's a refreshing addition to the spicy, intense flavor of the marinated tofu.  The pickled daikon and carrot slaw is the same pickle used on banh mi, or Vietnamese sandwiches, and is generally served with fried foods in Cambodian cuisine.

For those who are looking to experiment with vegetarian meals, this is a wonderful introduction since it is far from lacking in flavor and texture.  For vegetarians looking to spice up their diet, this recipe is great for you, too.  Lastly, for those looking to gradually introduce new flavors into their kitchen, this recipe requires very inexpensive and easy to find ingredients (at least in Richmond).  All of the ingredients (literally, everything in the list, even the mortar and pestle and a cheap hand tool to julienne veggies) can be easily found at your local Southeast Asian market.  The peppers are only about $2 a bag, by the way, and the turmeric is sold on the dry spice aisle.  I have a list of some of my favorites in Richmond on the right side of my blog.

Enjoy this tasty recipe that comes courtesy of My Linh from  You can find the original recipe "To hu chien kreung" or "Fried Tofu with Lemongrass" recipe on her website in the "fried foods" section


pickled daikon and carrot slaw
Thai hand julienne tool
(optional, but will speed up the process significantly and only costs 2 or 3 bucks) (

1 tsp salt
2 cups shredded or julienned daikon radish, approx 1/2 lb daikon (found in SE Asian or Korean markets) (
2 cups shredded or julienned carrot

1/2 cup white vinegar (yes, it does matter, WHITE vinegar)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 TB salt
 1 clove garlic, finely minced or pressed (do not use pre-packaged, pre-chopped garlic here) (optional)

Mix the shredded veggies with 1 tsp of salt and toss them gently to distribute the salt evenly.  This will serve to soften the veggies and they will begin releasing their juices.  Let them sit for a minute or two then rinse and squeeze out the excess liquid.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix the vinegar, sugar, water, and the 1 TB of salt together, and the minced or pressed garlic (if you plan on using it).  Mix well until the sugar and salt dissolve.  Pour the vinegar sauce over the carrot and daikon and mix well before serving.

This pickled slaw is best when allowed to sit ideally overnight, but at least for 30 minutes to an hour.

tofu marinade:
*1 mortar and pestle--must be *stone*, NOT wood or clay or it will not work

2 cloves of garlic
2 TB minced lemongrass (you can buy pre-minced in the frozen section or mince the fresh stuff yourself)
2 Thai birdseye chilies (optional, but yummmy!)
1 tsp soy sauce (be sure that soy is actually on the list of ingredients...not all brands are real soy sauce)
1 tsp oyster sauce (or mushroom sauce if you're a strict vegetarian)
1 tsp turmeric powder (or 3 or 4 minced turmeric roots)

1 package *firm* tofu, sliced horizontally in half, with a about 5-7 slits vertically across the top only of the tofu
3 TB vegetable oil
Pound all of the first section of ingredients together into a uniform paste in a stone mortar and pestle.  Gently rub the marinade on each piece of tofu that has been rinsed and patted dry.

I would allow it to marinade 15-20 minutes, but this is optional.

Preheat oil in a skillet or wok over medium heat.  Fry the tofu until brown and crispy. Serve with white rice and pickled daikon carrot slaw.  I have also done this recipe on my foreman grill and in my toaster oven at a high temperature (400 or so) and it turned out very yummy.  Just be sure to grease the surface of  whatever alternative cooking device you choose.

*Mortar and pestle photo courtesy of on
*Birdseye chili photo courtesy of

Don't forget to let me know what you guys think about this and other posts by hitting the "useful," "interesting," or "cool" buttons below or by leaving a comment.  I love to see what types of recipes you prefer and how things turn out when you try these recipes at home.

Happy cooking :)!

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