Cambodian Stir Fried Veg with Sesame Tofu


Many Cambodian dishes are cooked with a spice paste, known as Kroeung, as a base.  Red Kroeung has a base of red chillies, Green Kroeung contains lemongrass and Yellow Kroeung is so called because of its turmeric.

One night we stayed in a these eco huts on stilts on a river. You could dive straight from your bedroom steps into a beautiful, clean, empty river - no boats or humans in sight.  No electricity either, only solar powered fairy lights and a hammock to watch the stars.  We arrived late so ate in the little bamboo reception and chatted to the owner, Freya, about the Eden Eco Village and her other business, a spa and social enterprise across the river that employs Cambodian women.  We had vegetables stir fried in this paste and they were unbelievably good.  The next morning at breakfast, I saw the Cambodian girl who worked in the kitchen pounding up the paste, which they sell in the markets.

Here is my version of the recipe, with some tofu on top, though they love it with prawns.  If you find yourself near Kampot in Southern Cambodia, I highly recommend visiting Freya for a swim under the stars.


Stir Fried Vegetables with Yellow Kroeung and Sesame & Soy Tofu

NB: I always get these fresh spices in The Spice Shop on the Portobello Road, but Whole Foods does them too.

Serves 4


Yellow Kroeung

3 stalks lemongrass, thinly sliced

8 cloves finely chopped garlic

2 finely chopped shallots or 1 small finely chopped onion

A knob of peeled and chopped galangal

A knob of peeled and finely chopped fresh turmeric

4 finely sliced kaffir lime leaves, with the hard center ribs removed

½ teaspoon salt


4 carrots

5 spring onions

300g tenderstem broccoli

1 bag mangetout

1 bunch coriander

Spring greens or spinach or cabbage - you can add any veg

Soy & Sesame Tofu

Tofu is flavourless so it takes on the flavour of whatever you put it with.  I think marinating it produces the best results.

1 packet wet tofu

Sesame seeds

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp lime juice

2 tbsp sesame oil


Cut the tofu in half widthways so it's thinner.  Then into 3, so you have 6 strips.

Mix the soy, honey, lime and sesame oil together and marinate the strips for 2 hours.  Make sure all the tofu is covered, if not dilute with some water.  Don't be tempted to add more soy or it'll be too salty.

For the kroeung, place all the ingredients into a blender until you have a coarse paste.  Don't try it raw!  It will last a week or so in the fridge.  It also will make a delicious base for a curry if you add coconut milk.

Chop the vegetables and stir fry them in the paste - you'll need to add some coconut or sesame oil if they stick to the wok (try and use a wok if you can).

Fry the tofu in sesame oil on a high heat until it's caramelised and crispy (about a minute on each side), add the sesame seeds and put on top of the veg.  Garnish with roasted peanuts or cashews.