Friday, March 4, 2011

Vietnamese Tofu Curry

I love Vietnamese curries; that particular combination of coconut milk, lemongrass, basil, and spicy chilis adds up to something so much more wonderful than the sum of its parts. Over the past week or so, I've had a wretched cold, and wanted hot, soupy things, so my lovely partner obliged me with a much-improved update of my own avgolemono recipe. We fed off that for several days, and then it was time for Something Completely Different, and a nice tofu curry sounded like just the thing. I was all set to call our (very good) local place for some takeout, when it occurred to me that we probably had everything necessary right here at home. I checked the pantry, did a little Googling, conflated - 'tis ever thus - a few different recipes, and within an hour we were chowing down on this comforting, delicious meal. (Alas, the partner is now the sick one, so we're back to soup; this time, it's potato leek!)

Vietnamese Tofu Curry
~ 1 lb. extra firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cubed
~ 1/4 cup cornstarch
~ 1 tbsp. curry powder
~ 1/4 cup canola oil
~ 1 tbsp. each: grated ginger, minced garlic
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, cilantro, dried lemongrass
~ 1 tbsp. curry powder
~ 2 bay leaves
~ 1 large onion, sliced into thin crescents
~ 2 stalks celery, sliced into thin strips
~ 2 carrots, julienned
~ 1 red bell pepper, chopped
~ 1 large zucchini, julienned
~ 2 cups sliced mushrooms
~ 2 tbsp. vegetarian oyster sauce (or soy sauce)
~ 1 10 oz, package frozen spinach, thawed
~ 2 14 oz. cans lite coconut milk
~ 1- 2 tsp. hot sauce, or to taste (I use Sriracha)
~ 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
~ 1/2 cup cold water
~ 1 tbsp. corn starch

~ In a large plastic bag or a bowl with a tight-fitting lid, combine the 1/4 cup corn starch and 1 tbsp. curry powder. Add the cubed tofu and shake vigorously to coat.
~ In a large, deep wok, heat the oil and cook the cubed tofu over medium-high heat until brown and crisp, turning occasionally. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, and set aside.
~ Drain off all but about a tablespoon of the oil, and sauté the onion, ginger, garlic, salt, cilantro, lemongrass, curry powder, bay leaves, and onion over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes.
~ Add the celery through the mushrooms, and cook another 5 minutes.
~ Stir in the oyster sauce and the spinach; cover and cook a few minutes more.
~ Raise the heat to high, add the coconut milk and hot sauce, and bring to just boiling. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover the wok, and allow to cook another 10 minutes.
~ In a small bowl, combine the cold water and corn starch, whisk to combine, and stir into the curry. Cook another few minutes until thickened.
~ Fish out the bay leaves, stir in the fried tofu and the basil, taste for seasoning, and serve hot over jasmine or basmati rice.

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