There are very little Thai options where I live and the place that I go to has some pretty soupy curry that I’m not a fan of (but their pineapple fried rice is off-the-hook). I’m almost positive that they use store-bought, Mae-Ploy brand Red Curry. But because both Thai dishes and curries are so complex in flavor and have an extensive ingredient list, buying pre-made* curry paste is the way to go especially if you can’t find all the ingredients or if you’re a thai-food noob like me.
I’m still learning about the different curries that pop out of Thailand. Apparently, panang curry, while similar in flavor to red curry, sometimes contains ground peanuts. I didn’t know that and added peanuts to this recipe which calls for red curry. Panang curry is also traditionally thicker; using coconut cream, as opposed to coconut milk. Authenticity has taken a leave of absence with this recipe which is why I’ve referred to this recipe as thai-style. baww.
Thai-Style Peanut, Red-Curry with Tofu and Vegetables
2 tbsp thai red-curry paste (MaePloy Yellow Curry is vegetarian)
1/2 8oz can (light) coconut milk or cream
1 heaping tbsp chunky peanut butter
1/2 c. slivered onions or 1 whole shallot, chopped
1 Japanese eggplant, cut into chunks
1 small head of broccoli, chopped
1/2 large bell pepper cut in small strips
1/4 c. defrosted peas or a handful of sugarsnap peas
1 package extra-firm tofu
1/4 c. thai basil, or cilantro– or a combination
First, drain tofu: Place paper towels underneath and over tofu brick (cut in half if you like), and place a heavy weight on top. You may also squeeze liquid out with a cheesecloth. Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting into small chunks. While the tofu is draining, salt eggplant and let drain if it contains dark, bitter seeds.
Heat a bit of peanut oil or olive oil in a large pan or wok over high heat. Toss in tofu and cook half-way to golden-brown. Toss in eggplant and onions, if using. Cook until slightly softened. At this point, toss in shallots and bell-peppers (and sugar snap peas). Scoop out peanut butter and red-curry and toss in pan, to pick up some roasted flavor. At this point, pour in coconut milk and frozen peas, stir, and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Add more coconut milk or water to change viscosity of your curry. I like mine chunky and thick so 1/2 the can was perfect. Toss with your fresh herbs.
Serve over steamed brown rice
*NOTE: Depending on the brand of red-curry or if you make it yourself, it may come with shrimp paste as an ingredient. A Taste of Thai is vegetarian but has some weird ingredients but recommended brands such as MaePloy and Hand brand contain Shrimp Paste except for the Yellow Curry which is good but has a different flavor profile (Star Anise). Check your ingredients!