23 April 2013

Thai Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Tofu

Since we're in the final months of saving (and employment), we've been trying to eat at home more frequently, which unfortunately means Friday night, too. In a past life, Friday would be our date night or just a night I didn't have to cook. But considering we dropped $40+ on date night to a sandwich place a few weeks back, that can't happen too often. 

It's still the weekend though and as much as I'd like to just throw some leftovers in the microwave and be done with it, I still want to celebrate a bit with a nice dinner. I just don't want to spend all evening preparing it. Enter the skillet meals....

Finally...some color!
We've made this tofu dish once before and it automatically became a household favorite. It's hard to get my husband to eat curry, but he seems to like the Thai-style curry better than Indian style. That's a relief since I stocked up on coconut milk during a sale a couple months ago and even after making my oatmeal, another round of this dish, and a semi-failed dessert on Easter (did you know coconut milk does not fluff up when whipped? Me neither), we still have a couple cans. 

You need a cover for your 12" skillet. I got creative.
This dish comes out in about 30-40 minutes, depending on how quickly you prep your vegetables. I was busy making myself a Manhattan between tasks, so it took me a little longer.

This is almost vegan, but the fish sauce ruins that whole vegetarian/vegan thing. I don't know what the vegan substitute for fish sauce would be, but I really don't recommend skipping it completely. It makes a huge difference in the flavor.
Came close to cropping this and decided, no, this is just how I roll on Friday nights...dinner, Manhattan and jammies
I'm so happy it's nearing summer again because it means our vegetables are not just dark green and orange. Despite having 1.5 lbs of sweet potato and coconut milk, this is not an overly sweet meal. The fish sauce and red curry manage to balance it out, as well as the last-minute addition of fresh basil and lime juice, for acidity. We serve it on rice because who can have enough carbs? Not this girl.

Skillet Thai Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Tofu
Cook's Illustrated
Serves 4-6 (honestly)

14 ounces extra-firm tofu
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons red curry paste
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
2 tablespoons fish sauce
4 teaspoons light brown sugar
1/4 cup water
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch strips
1/2 pound snow peas, strings removed
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1. Slice the tofu into ¾-inch planks. Lay the planks on a clean kitchen towel and cover with a second kitchen towel. Lightly press the tofu until its surface is dry. Unwrap and cut it into ¾-inch cubes.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the tofu in a single layer and cook until golden brown on one side, about 2 minutes. Gently stir the tofu and cook until a second side is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

3. Add the remaining tablespoon oil to the skillet and return to medium heat until shimmering. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring constantly, until very fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk in the coconut milk, fish sauce, light brown sugar, and water. Add the sweet potatoes and tofu; bring to a simmer. Turn heat to low, cover, and cook until the potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

4. Add the red bell pepper and snow peas, increase the heat to medium-low, and continue to cook, covered, until the peas are crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the basil and lime juice. Season with salt to taste. Serve immediately.

*I use coconut oil to fry the tofu and saute the vegetables, because it already tastes like coconut anyway and it's better for you than vegetable oil. You can opt to use light coconut milk, but the sauce will be thinner.


  1. Based on the Thai cooking classes we have taken, I think they would say a vegan substitute for the fish sauce would probably just be salt or soy sauce as fish sauce is meant to add a "salty" component to your dish. I agree, it won't be a perfect match, but hey, that's the price you pay for being vegan/vegetarian, right? ;)

    Looks great! We used to eat a lot of homemade Thai curries, as although Nashville actually had a few decent Thai places, they were pretty much the most expensive "ethnic" food you could get!

    Also: aieeeeee! You are in the home stretch now!

    1. Well, there's this way to make veg fish sauce: http://www.americastestkitchenfeed.com/super-quick-video-tips/2013/03/how-to-make-a-vegetarian-alternative-to-fish-sauce-video/

      But boy, that is pretty labor intensive. I guess if you really wanted that flavor.

  2. Ooo, this looks good! Thanks for sharing. Tofu tip for ya: Trader Joe's has great super-extra-firm tofu you don't have to press. I eat a block a week, no joke. Picture here: http://janesaddictions.wordpress.com/2011/07/28/tofu-experiment/

    1. That's awesome...however we rarely shop at Trader Joe's because it's just too hard to add it to our routine. Especially now that we are carless. I have one near work, but I basically only ever get snacks there. But if we do get there, I would definitely try it!