Thai Coconut Curry with Shrimp and Crispy Tofu

Tofu Week in One Woman’s Kitchen has turned out to be ‘tofu couple of days,’ but I’m trying.  I had a bunch of ‘halves’ leftover from the Sweet Potato Korma from earlier in the week – half a package of tofu, half a can of coconut milk, half a bunch of cilantro.  Then I had half a package of rice noodles from some other time.  Time to use them up.  In this case four halves add up to a really good dinner for a cold and damp night.  Really yummy!

When I started thinking about adding tofu to a curry sauce I had this fear that tofu with coconut milk sauce on it would just be slimy.   Gross.  So I seared the tofu in a little oil first, making ‘crispy tofu.’  I added the shrimp for good measure in case the tofu was yucky.  I had a bag of frozen shrimp and this seemed like a perfectly good use for it.  The sauce is pretty standard:  onion, ginger, garlic, red curry paste and coconut milk.  Normally there would also be some fish sauce to add a briny element, but I didn’t have any so a significant amount of low sodium soy sauce had to suffice.  It worked out fine.  Finish with some green onions and cilantro and voila!  Dinner!

Turns out that crisping the tofu was a very good choice.  In the end the texture of the tofu wasn’t that far off of the texture of the shrimp so we’ll call that a success.  It’s a lite coconut milk so that flavor is subtle, but it makes the feel of the sauce really creamy.  Next time I’d want to be sure that I had the fish sauce.  It’s just a different kind of salty from the soy sauce.  Using the soy sauce was good, but it takes a fair amount to get enough salt to punch up the silky sauce.  And with the soy it would have been nice to have a little lime juice for some acidity.  I didn’t have that either.  Still, it was a dish worth making and worth making again.

My only complaint about this dish is that there were lots of dishes involved in the cooking of something that’s served as a one bowl meal.  Very annoying.  There’s one pot for the rice noodles; one pot for the shrimp; and one pot for the sauce.  If you use fresh shrimp you can eliminate the pot for boiling the frozen shrimp.  On the positive side this came together with pretty much no planning and using a bunch of leftover ingredients.  Speaking of leftovers, I think they’re going to be great.  A curry sauce like this is often better the second day. 

I wouldn’t normally serve a dish like this at a dinner party, but it’s a great choice for a weeknight get together.  Quick, easy, warm and yummy.  I might be getting the hang of this tofu thing!

Good? Yes, very good.
Easy? Let’s call it intermediate because of the multiple things going on at once.
Good for company? Not fancy company, but otherwise yes.
Special shopping? Nope. Maybe not stuff you keep in the house, but easy enough to get at any grocery store.

Thai Coconut Curry with Shrimp and Crispy Tofu

Ingredients

2 T vegetable oil
6-8 oz Crispy Tofu
6 oz. frozen medium shrimp
6-8 oz narrow rice noodles
1/2 t minced garlic
1/2 t minced ginger
1 C diced sweet onion
3/4 t red curry paste
7 oz. lite coconut milk
1/4 C low sodium soy sauce
3 T chopped green onions
3 T chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

Crispy Tofu

Slice extra firm tofu into 1/2 inch slices. Place slices between 2 layers of paper towels and place a weight on it to squeeze out excess liquid. (I used a cast iron skillet). Let sit 15-20 minutes. Dice the tofu into cubes.
Add vegetable oil to a deep saute pan and heat until it just begins to smoke. Add the tofu. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side, until tofu is golden brown. Remove from the pan.

Noodles and Shrimp
Cook noodles and shrimp in separate pots according to the package directions. Be careful not to overcook the noodles and shrimp while you are making the curry sauce.

Coconut Curry Sauce
Make the sauce while the noodles and shrimp are cooking.
Using the oil from crisping the tofu saute the onion, ginger and garlic until the onion is translucent. Add the red curry paste. Stir until the paste is fully incorporated.
Add coconut milk and heat to a simmer. Stir in soy sauce.
Add in cooked noodles and shrimp.
Remove from heat. Add the green onions and cilantro.

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