Saturday, May 15, 2010

"Will the meatless recipe never end," he wonders to himself...

I have a dirty secret — I'm a weekend binger. I love nothing more than a big hunk of meat, when it can be savoured and digested in relaxation. This weekend, in celebration of converting our barbecue to propane (from Alberta's natural gas) we plan to make the biggest, thickest, striploins this side of the Rockies.

During the week, however, I tend towards eating more healthfully, and I happen to really like meatless dishes. However, this one... not so much.

What can I say about tofu that would make it appetizing? If you're already a convert, good for you, I admire your commitment to it. Me, no matter what I do I can't seem to get over the mouth-feel and the blandness. Don't get me wrong, this recipe from, Red Curry with Vegetables, is stunning, just look at it!

Except for using asparagus instead of beans, I pretty much followed the recipe exactly. A friend of mine, who spent many years in Asia, said I should buy my tofu from a Chinese market, because the Chinese are the originators of tofu and use it extensively in their cooking. Other cultures typically don't use it in the originating country, unless adapting it for western vegetarians. According to my friend, you wouldn't find green beans in Thailand, and certainly not asparagus. I never though of it that way. Not being an experienced traveller, I've only ever eating Thai food in Canada and it would make sense to use what was locally abundant.

But back to the dish. I think the problem lies in the fact that you first have to brown the tofu in oil. To my very limited knowledge of tofu, I thought the whole idea of cooking with it is to allow the flavours of the sauce it's cooked in to absorb into it. If you sear it, you seal it, so nothing gets in. If you can get over the idea of tofu (maybe cut it into very small bits) and add non-seared tofu at the very end, just to heat it and absorb the flavours) this dish could be a superb vegetarian dish.  It cooks up easily and fairly quickly.

The sauce is spectacular. I once took a Thai cooking class and dishes with red curry paste were my favourite. It's nothing at all like Indian curry paste (which is also spectacular) and when combined with the coconut milk, it's a little bit of heaven in your mouth. Hubby is not a spicy fan, so I added about a small teaspoon at a time, having him taste it until he thought it was spicy enough, then added a couple more teaspoons (he never noticed). The lime juice makes it very refreshing. I served it over leftover brown rice I had steamed in broth and dried apricots, and we both thought it very complimentary.

I'm not sure I'm brave enough to try it again with tofu, but I think it would be amazing made with shrimp, white fish or chicken. I'll try shrimp next time. I think I would simply put the raw shelled shrimp into the coconut curry sauce and allow it to turn pink before serving. Although I've done that lots of times, I wonder if that would be against safe cooking practices? Hmmm... if you're in doubt, sauté the shrimps as you would have the tofu.

Thinking about it makes me want to eat it again. If the weather doesn't turn hot soon, I just might.

Red Curry with Vegetables
From EatingWell:  October/November 2006Red Thai curry paste, which flavors this dish, is a convenient blend of chile peppers, garlic, lemongrass and galanga (a root that's similar in flavor to ginger). It can pack a lot of heat, so be sure to taste as you go. Look for the curry paste in jars or cans in the Asian section of the supermarket or specialty store. Make it a Meal: Ladle the stew over rice to soak up every bit of the delicious sauce.
4 servings, about 1 1/2 cups each Active Time: 40 minutes | Total Time: 40 minutes


  • 4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
  • 1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu, rinsed, patted dry and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pound sweet potato, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 14-ounce can lite coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1-2 teaspoons red Thai curry paste
  • 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 lime, quartered


  1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu and cook, stirring every 2 or 3 minutes, until browned, 6 to 8 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
  2. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high heat. Add sweet potato and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add coconut milk, broth and curry paste to taste. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the sweet potato is just tender, about 4 minutes. Add the tofu, green beans and brown sugar; return to a simmer and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the green beans are tender-crisp, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in lime juice and salt. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with lime wedges.


Per serving : 348 Calories; 16 g Fat; 6 g Sat; 4 g Mono; 0 mg Cholesterol; 41 g Carbohydrates; 13 g Protein; 7 g Fiber; 451 mg Sodium; 578 mg Potassium
2 Carbohydrate Serving
Exchanges: 2 1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 medium-fat meat, 2 fat

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