Salads, Thai Food

Tao Jiao Lon – fermented soy bean dip


This is an old school Thai dish that isn’t easy to find in restaurants, particularly as a veggie option. It’s really tasty and health, especially as it’s eaten with a lot of fresh vegetables. It can be eaten alone or as part of a Thai meal. It’s made with fermented / salted soy beans and coconut milk. It has a delicate flavor compared to some spicier Thai dishes.

So what do you need?

  • 250ml coconut milk
  • 50ml veggie stock / water
  • 100g mushrooms (I used fresh shitake mushrooms)
  • 100g firm tofu
  • 2 or 3 small red shallots
  • 2 sticks of lemon grass
  • 3 – 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 3 – 4 large red / yellow / green chillies (prik chii far)
  • 4 tablespoons salted / fermented soy beans
  • 2 tbsp. roasted, unsalted peanuts
  • 1-2 tbsp. palm sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp. tamarind paste
  • 2 tsp. light soy sauce
  • 1tbsp. vegetable oil
  • Fresh vegetables and coriander leaves to eat with it

So what do you do

Start by prepping the ingredients.  Finely chop the  mushrooms shallots and finely slice the lemon grass and chillies and tear the kaffir lime leaves in half. Rinse the soy beans so they are not too salty and pound 3 tbsp. of them with the peanuts in a mortar to make a thick paste.  Then fry the mushrooms in the oil with a tsp. of soy sauce as they cook crumble in the tofu and cook for about a minute. Set this aside in a bowl.  Put the coconut milk in the frying pan with the stock / water, 1 tbsp. of palm sugar and 1 tbsp. tamarind paste, add the diced shallots, lemon grass, the kaffir lime leaves, most of the chillies and a tsp. of soy sauce and then stir in about 2/3 of the soy bean paste and stir until everything dissolves. It’s a good idea not to put all of the flavourings in at once as you may need to readjust the balance of flavours. You can taste the sauce and see is you think it is well balanced. It shouldn’t be too salty, too sweet, too sour or too spicy so adjust the flavourings as you see fit. Add the remaing tbsp. of rinsed soy beans and as long as it’s not too salty add the rest of the soy bean and peanut paste as this helps thicken up the dip. Simmer until it starts to thicken up but is not too dry and then put it in a bowl and garnish with some sliced chillies and some coriander leaves. The dip should be room temperature or slightly warm when served but so while it cools down prepare your veggies for serving it with. White / Chinese cabbage is good as are cucumber and yard beans and a bunch of coriander leaves is a must. If you can find it, I couldn’t today, then fresh white turmeric root finely sliced is a traditional accompaniment. To serve just spoon the dip onto the vegetables or make little parcels with the cabbage leaves and some coriander leaves. Yum!