Thai Red Curry
When I first heard about the combination of Coconut milk and Tofu, my first reaction was that Tofu is an ingredient only for Chinese food, so how can you mix it up with coconut milk?? Yuck!! Not only that, after trying Thai food at some restaurant in Las Vegas for the first time, I decided that I will never ever try this cuisine again. It was a pretty bad experience. But with the help of some reliable recipes and some good reviews about Thai food, I dared to try it out on my own. And guess what, now I am in love with Thai food!! I absolutely love exotic Thai ingredients.
Just like other authentic dishes around the world Thai food is known for its balance of the five fundamental taste senses in each meal: hot (spicy), sour, sweet, salty, and bitter. Thai food requires its own exotic ingredients. With patience, creativity and constant tasting as you cook, you can create delicious dishes at home with just a few essential ingredients such as lemon grass, Kaffir Lime Leaf, Galangal, Fish sauce(or Soy sauce), Thai red chilies etc… You can always find them in an Asian (Oriental) grocery store and if not you can check with the Thai restaurant in your town and find out where they get it from.
A Thai family meal will normally consist of rice with several dishes forming a harmonious contrast of ingredients. The dishes are all served at the same time. You get different varieties of Thai curries just like Indian food. Traditionally, Thai food is eaten with right hand just like we eat our Indian food. (Source: Wikipedia and Templeofthai.com)
Here I am going to share my modified version of Red Curry recipe followed by Red Curry paste recipe. Red curry paste is very easy to make and you can store it in refrigerator/freezer for about 6 months. So here you go!!!
Thai Red Curry:
(Courtesy: Chef Chloe and Showmethecurry.com)
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Yields: 4 servings
- 1 Tbsp – Oil
- 2 ½ Tbsp – Palm Sugar (Dark Brown sugar can be used but do not substitute with normal sugar)
- 1 Tbsp – Soy Sauce or Fish Sauce
- 1 Tbsp Lime juice
- 1-2 Tbsp Paprika (Optional – If you need Red color of the curry)
- Salt to taste
- 1 14-ounce package organic firm tofu, drained, cut into 1 inch cubes
- Snow Peas – handful
- Red Bell Pepper – 1/2, sliced
- Green Bell Pepper – 1 slices
- 1/2 cup diced Button mushrooms
- 1 small can (8 oz) – Bamboo Shoots
- Carrots – 1 thin slices
- 1/4, sliced - Sweet Onion
- 1/4 cup Frozen Peas
- 2 cans(14oz/400ml each) – Coconut Milk
- ¼ cup organic crunchy peanut butter (This will make gravy thick and will give it nice texture as well as flavor)
- 5-6 Tbsp Thai red curry paste (1/2 to 1 tbsp per serving – depends on your taste – Recipe follows)
- Thai Basil Leaves – 8-10, torn up
- Thai Basil Leaves – for garnish
- ½ cup roasted and salted cashews
In a pan, heat the Oil on medium heat. Once hot, add in the Red Curry Paste and mix well. Add in the Coconut Milk and mix again. Also, add in Brown sugar, Soy Sauce, Crunchy Peanut butter and mix well. Let it cook for 5 minutes on medium heat.
Now start adding the vegetables – Snow Peas, Red Bell Pepper, Green Bell Pepper, Mushrooms, Bamboo Shoots, Carrots, Sweet Onions, Peas, Baby Corn (Whatever is available). Also add salt and in Tofu and mix gently. Now add in some torn Basil Leaves and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Cook till the tofu is heated all the way. Do not over cook the vegetables. They should have their crunchiness when you serve. Do not forget to taste it before you serve it. If you need more spicy/tangy you can add more curry paste. Same with salt.
Garnish with a few more Thai Basil Leaves, cashew nuts (Which I forgot to use) and serve hot with some Jasmine Rice.
Red curry paste recipe:
If you have this homemade paste handy in your fridge, it’s very easy and quick to prepare heavenly Thai meal. So here you go…
Prep Time: 40 minutes (including soaking time)
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4 servings of 4 (Again depends on your usage and taste)
- Dried Thai Red Chilies – 40 or to taste (They are really hot so be careful while handling it. Wash your hands with salt after using it and then soap – Mom’s tip )
- Hot Water – 1/2 cup
- Galangal – 2 heaping Tbsp (Ginger can be substituted but use galangal for authentic Thai flavor)
- Shallots – 1 cup, chopped
- Lemon Grass – 6 Tbsp, chopped
- Cilantro Stems – 5 Tbsp
- Garlic – 1/2 cup, chopped
- Thai Red Chilies – to taste (optional)
- Lime Leaves – 10 Kaffir Lime leaves (Lime peel can be substituted)
- Whole White Peppercorns – 2 tsp (black can be substituted)
- Salt – 2 tsp or to taste (used as preservative)
- Paprika – as needed and optional for red color
- Oil – 6 Tbsp
- Soak Dried Red Chilies in 1/2 cup hot water for approx 1/2 an hour.
- Remove the soaked chilies from the water and place them along with all the remaining ingredients (except Oil) in a blender or spice grinder. Reserve the soaking water and use it instead of plain water to help the grinding process.
- Grind all the ingredients into a smooth paste.
- Heat Oil in a skillet. Add the paste and cook it until the oil starts to separate and the paste starts to clump together (3-5 mins).
- Remove from the heat and allow the paste to cool down before storing it in a clean airtight jar. Store in refrigerator for up to 1 month or freeze for up to 6 months.