Asian Lightly Pickled Cucumber and Tofu Salad

Tofu and Cucumber Salad

Parts of Asia, from China to Thailand and Singapore, even Bali, have amazing salads of the freshest of vegetables with handfuls of herbs. This salad celebrates that tradition, with ingredients from Japan, China and S.E. Asia. It is a bit of work, truth be told, but it makes such a great salad to take to a large gathering, BBQ or picnic. Not quite a Buddha’s Salad, it is so dynamic it is also wonderful eaten on its own as a course, or a light lunch, perhaps accompanied by some Chinese steamed rice.

The vegetables are all slightly pickled, the tofu is marinated, and the herbs are plentiful. Look for unusual ingredients in your local Chinese or Asian grocery shop.

This recipe is a little similar to Kylie’s Asian Herb and Sesame Salad, although they come from different sources. Both are worth trying if you enjoy slightly pickled salads. You might also like Cucumber and Red Radish Slightly Pickled Salad, or Slightly Pickled Mushrooms in Tamari and Sesame Oil. Also try Asian Style Greens with garlic and Sesame.

Feel free to browse recipes from our Retro Recipes series – these are vegetarian recipes from our first blog, from 1995 – 2005. You might also like all of our Tofu recipes and all of our SE Asian recipes. All of our Salad recipes are here. Or spend some time to explore our easy Late Summer recipes.

There is an option to add some Chinese dried mushrooms. These make a great addition but are not strictly necessary.

You will probably need to visit an Asian Grocery to locate some of the ingredients. If you have not used many Chinese ingredients, such as pickled lotus root or cloud ear mushrooms, rice wine or black vinegar, don’t let that put you off. Any friendly assistant at a Chinese grocery will help you. These are common ingredients in Asia, even if they don’t often appear in Western dishes.

This is another recipe that has stood the test of time and is a delightfully different summery salad – one that will definitely impress your Sunday lunch guests. Eat it with Chinese Scallion and Orange Zest Pancakes.


Tofu and Cucumber Salad

Asian Cucumber and Tofu Salad

This makes A LOT. You might like to halve the recipe. It takes 2 – 2.5 hours to make, most of which is for the vegetables to lightly pickle.

300 g tofu
1 cup rice wine
2 tspn black vinegar
200 g carrots, julienned
100 g daikon radish
500g Lebanese cucumbers, julienned
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
6 tspns good white vinegar
6 tspns sugar
200g pickled lotus stem (or use dried lotus root stems, soaked, rinsed and patted dried)
small handful of mint
small handful Thai Basil
10 g Vietnamese Mint
1 small red chilli, deseeded and chopped finely (or to taste)
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
0.5 tspn toasted sesame oil

0.5 tspn light miso
5 tspn lime juice
5 tspn sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small red chilli, deseeded and chopped finely (or to taste)
1 tspn mild curry powder
ground black pepper

1 medium onion, sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic
100g roasted cashew nuts
bunch coriander leaves, chopped

Combine julienned carrots and daikon with 2 tspn vinegar and 2 tspn sugar, mix well, marinate for 2 hours, then drain carrots and daikon well.

Marinate tofu in rice wine and black vinegar for 1 – 2 hours, turn gently half way through.

Combine onion with 2 tspn vinegar and 2 tspn sugar and stand for 15 minutes before straining and patting dry.

Combine cucumber with 1 tspn vinegar and 1 tspn sugar and stand for 10 minutes before squeezing out excess liquid through a cloth.

to make the dressing
Combine all ingredients well. Allow to sit for 30 minutes or so.

to make the garnish: fry onion and garlic in oil until crisp.

to assemble the salad
Combine carrot, daikon, tofu, onion, cucumber, lotus stems, mints, basil, garlic, sesame oil  and chilli in a large bowl. Add the dressing and mix well.

Serve on plates, garnished with crispy fried garlic and onions,  coriander and chopped cashew nuts.

Accompany with some crackers or wonderfully white Chinese steamed rice.


recipe notes and alternatives
If liked, Chinese mushrooms can be added to this salad. Use:
8 Cloud’s Ear fungus
4 g moss fungus
10 g dried black Chinese fungus
Soak them for 20 minutes. Drain well, slice any large cloud’s ear and black mushrooms and add to the salad. Mix well.

Try different marinades for the tofu, for example some soy mixed with sweet soy (kepak manis).

Toss unsalted peanuts, split in two, through the salad in place of the cashews.

Add some sesame seeds to the salad or the dressing.

Although this moves away from the Asian theme, I also like to make salad without the tofu, Chinese Mushrooms or lotus stem, and add cooked haloumi, cubed. It is a delicious salad.


This recipe is one of the vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2005. It is cross posted on our sister site, Heat in the Kitchen, as part of the Retro Recipes series.










Author: Ganga108

Heat in the Kitchen, Cooking with Spirit. Temple junkie, temple builder, temple cleaner. Lover of life, people, cultures, travel. Champion of growth, change and awareness. Taker of photos. Passionate about family. Happy.

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