Friday, July 30, 2010

Thai Red Curry Tofu

This may be way out of the comfort zone for many people, but it is more than worth the effort. Thai red curry has become a staple in our house because it is simple and versatile, flavorful and nutritious. With a few standard Thai items in your pantry you can whip it up whenever the urge hits.

Some of the ingredients are not familiar to most Americans, so I will try to describe them. Everyone knows what soy sauce is, but my Thai dishes will call for low sodium soy sauce. I go with low sodium soy sauce because some of the other prepared Thai ingredients already have significant sodium content, particularly fish sauce. Fish sauce is a pleasantly pungent, salty, light brown clear liquid, made from brined small fish, usually anchovies. Without fish sauce, the flavor of Thai dishes just fall flat.

Thai red curry paste is a mixture of lemongrass, galangal (Thai ginger) and fresh red chilies mashed into a paste. Keeping these ingredients in the fridge would be cumbersome if you could even find them, so the prepared paste is a real time saver. Plus, a jar of paste can keep for months, not days like the fresh ingredients. Use cautiously until you get used to the heat in curry paste. It’s easy to overdo it.

To tone down the heat and spice, the dish is finished with coconut milk and a little sugar. I use light coconut milk in my recipes because it has less than half the fat and calories than regular coconut milk.

This is another easily adaptable recipe. Instead of tofu, you can use about ¾ pound of boneless, skinless chicken or fish. A friend caught some striped bass and dropped off a nice filet that was fantastic prepared this way. This recipe makes 4 generous servings.

1 tbs. olive oil
12 to 14 oz. package extra firm tofu, pressed and cubed
1 large sweet onion thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic
1 to 3 tsp. Thai red curry paste
1 tbs. fish sauce
1 cup chicken broth
14 oz. can light coconut milk
2 to 3 tbs. low sodium soy sauce
2 tbs. brown sugar
2 medium zucchini, julienned, about 3 cups
2 medium red bell peppers, julienned, about 2 cups
1” piece of fresh ginger, minced
8 oz. rice noodles, prepared per package directions
1. Sauté tofu in olive oil over medium high heat until lightly browned, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add onions and continue sautéing until onions are translucent, about 3 minutes.
2. In a small bowl, combine garlic, curry paste, fish sauce, chicken broth, coconut milk, soy sauce and brown sugar, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
3. Add sauce mixture, zucchini, peppers and ginger to tofu mixture, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 3 to 5 minutes. Add prepared rice noodles, stir and simmer for an additional minute. Serve. 490 calories, 16 g. fat, 16 g. protein and 4 g. fiber per serving.

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