Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Thai Coconut Curry with Tofu and Vegetables


This is a follow-up post to one of my most popular posts, "Striped Pangasius With Thai Coconut Curry", that was originally adapted from skinnytaste.com.

I've taken to making this dish a bunch of different ways, as I make it a couple times a month, at least. I've done it with chunks of fish, shrimp, chicken and tofu. Served it over grilled tempeh and tofu. Always trying different combinations. I've kind of settled on this tofu version, with the vegetables cut a bit bigger and with more added.

It's my wife's favorite dish and the kids love it. Pretty much the definition of a "winner".

Thai Coconut Curry with Tofu and Vegetables

For the Tofu:
2 (14oz) packages of FIRM tofu (extra firm is fine, but don't get the "soft" varieties)
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tsp coconut oil (can sub any neutral oil, just coconut goes really well in this dish)
1 tsp sesame oil

For the Coconut Curry:
2 tablespoons coconut oil or ghee (can sub as per above)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 red bell peppers, diced
1 bunch scallions, sliced (green and whites separated)
1 shallot, diced (can sub a small red onion)
1 carrot, sliced
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tsp red curry paste
1 tsp madras curry powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp fish sauce
1 (14oz) can light coconut milk
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

==

For the tofu, we're just going to squeeze as much water out of it as we can so that it can soak up some soy sauce. 

If you're super-duper short on time you can skip this, but it's not going to taste nearly as good. 

On that note, if you think "tofu tastes bad" then you should give this preparation a whirl. It's streets ahead of just taking normal tofu and frying it up.

This also makes a great lunch for the kiddos. 


Cut each block into 4 pieces.


I fit mine onto 2-3 paper towels (or tea towel) set on a cutting board, thusly:


Cover them with anther layer of paper towels (or tea towel).


Put another cutting board on top.


Weigh it down!

I use my dutch oven and another pot. It doesn't have to be overkill, but a couple cans takes too long. Maybe like four 28oz cans would be enough. Just use a heavy pot, it's easier.

Anyway, let it sit for 10 minutes.


After 10 minutes, the paper towels should be very wet.

Time to switch them out.


Pressed, but not enough!
Repeat the paper towel set-up.


Repeat the press.

This time for 20 minutes.


Much better.


Pressed!
==

Get a 7x11 dish or something that will fit the tofu.

I used to do this in a ziplock bag but they get pretty fragile when rehydrated with soy sauce. It's much more manageable using a dish of some sort.

Pour enough soy sauce to nearly cover the bottom.


Arrange your tofu.


Drizzle some more soy sauce over the top.


Go ahead and flip them.


Cover and refrigerate all day if you want.

Flip about half way through your time.

I usually do this in the morning and serve for dinner, flipping once.


==

Meanwhile, you can prep all the veggies.

Gather your garlic.


Ginger.


I peel mine with a teaspoon. Easy.



Grate it or mince it.



You want to try to have equal amounts of garlic and ginger, a generous tablespoon of each.


Your other veggies can be prepped ahead as well.


==

Chop your shallot.

It's doesn't have to be finely chopped. I like all the veggies about the same size. Maybe 1/2 inch dice.



Slice a carrot on the bias just to look nice.


Red bell pepper.


Again, diced about 1/2 inch.


Scallions.


Separate the greens and whites.



Slice them coarsely.


Add to shallot and red bell peppers.



Slice the greens.


Separate bowl:


Halve the tomatoes.


To scallion greens bowl:


==

When you're ready for dinner, check on the tofu.

Notice all the soy sauce is gone from the bottom of the dish! Sucked into the tofu. That's flavor.


Get a pan over medium/high heat.

Add 1 tsp coconut oil and 1 tsp sesame oil. I really like that combination for this dish.


Add the tofu when the oil is hot.

Cook for 5-7 minutes depending. Keep an eye on them and check for browning.


Flip and get the other side golden brown and delicious. A few minutes. 


Evacuate to a cutting board. 


You can dice the tofu but I like to make little triangles. 

The kids love them this size - and we get to talk about shapes. 


==

You can start the curry at the same time.

Add 2 tablespoons coconut oil and 1 tablespoon sesame oil to a wok over high heat.

Add the ginger and garlic and cook for about a minute or until very fragrant. Don't over cook it.



Toss in the shallot, red bell peppers, carrots, and white parts of the scallions.

Toss and cook for 3-5 minutes or until soft.



Add the spices:

2 tsp red curry paste
1 tsp madras curry powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin

Stir well and cook for a minute.


Next, add the wet ingredients:

2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp fish sauce

Stir well and cook 2-3 minutes.


After about 3 minutes add the can of coconut milk.

Drop the heat to medium low and let this cook for about 15-20 minutes. You want to bring it to a simmer to thicken a bit but not to a full boil. 


After your 20 minutes, add the scallion greens and tomatoes. 


Give it a stir and add the tofu.


Let this go for another 5-10 minutes or until everything is heated through, the tomatoes begin to break down, and the flavors mingle a bit.



Just before service, toss in the cilantro and stir to combine.


==

Overall, this is a nice evolution of the original dish. Sometimes I still serve it the original way more as a sauce than as a stand-alone dish. This way definitely eats as a stand-alone dish. With the addition of the carrots and tomatoes, there are slightly different flavor elements going on, but they are all very complimentary. We've really grown to love this dish around here.

If you've never tried a red curry, it is at once a touch spicy (not too much for the kids) and sweet, salty and sour. Adding a squeeze of lime and some Sriracha compliments everything very well. The tofu stands up in texture and flavor to the curry and makes for a filling meal. No one will miss the meat in this dish.

I hope you give it a try. It's bound to impress!


Enjoy!

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