One of my later-in-life food discoveries was yellow curry. I had never really had it, or thought to order it, until my first job out of college. We ordered a lot of takeout…one of the places down the street was the diviest looking joint ever. Like, I would never go in there on a whim. BUT we had a “house account” there where we didn’t even have to use a credit card, they would just send us a bill in the mail…weird, right?
Well, I never really ate there until one of my coworkers RAVED to me about their yellow curry. He ordered it once and it looked tasty enough…chicken, rice, and the perfect combo of veggies in a rich yellow brothy saucy-sauce. So, naturally I had to try it. And my mind was blown. How had I never tried yellow curry before? How could something so tasty come out of the dumpiest restaurant ever? (don’t think about the weird smell in there when you would go to pick up the order…)Anyways, I really haven’t had a yellow curry that compares to it, I get very picky and annoyed at a lot of restaurants. Yellow curry will be on the menu, but it will have things like potatoes and other crap in it that doesn’t make sense to me. And how can you possibly leave out baby corn? What is wrong with people? Don’t people realize baby corn is absolutely necessary in every stir-fry or yellow curry that exists?So, years later I find myself with a block of tofu and this recipe I have been saving for awhile. And I came close to replication perfection. This is a recipe I will likely tweak over the years, and of course I will update you if I do (perhaps with better photos). Chicken can be swapped for tofu, and you really should wing this one a little bit to your liking. Instead of green beans and broccoli, you can add bok choy or asparagus, you can leave out some veggies, you know, whatevs. If you want more sauce to go over your rice, leave out some of the veggies listed below or simply use less, I went a little crazy. Some people will definitely want to add tons of sriracha, maybe you want to add more or less fish sauce or a dash or soy sauce. Live it up man.
Fresh Herb and Tofu Curry
heavily adapted from Sunset
- 14 to 16 oz. firm tofu
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 to 3 tbsp. grapeseed (recommended) or canola oil
- 1/2 – 1 cup thinly sliced shallots (1-2 whole shallots)
- 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped or minced
- 6 to 8 fresh curry leaves (optional)
- 1 tbsp. curry powder
- 1 can (about 14oz) light coconut milk (regular is fine here too)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream (optional, can sub more coconut milk instead)
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced canned bamboo shoots, drained and rinsed
- 2 to 3 tsp. packed shaved light palm sugar or light brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar here because it was all I had, turned out fine!)
- about 1 head of broccoli, stems removed, cut into florets
- 1 cup sliced carrots
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1/2 cup green beans, cut in half or quarters
- 1/2 cup baby corn
- 1 bell pepper (red, green, yellow or orange works!), cut into slices
- 1-2 stalks lemongrass, diced (totally optional)
- 1 tbsp Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh herbs, such as mint, cilantro, Thai basil, or Vietnamese coriander (rau ram)
- Sriracha, for serving
- cooked rice or quinoa, for serving
- Cut tofu into 16 rectangles shaped like husky dominoes (each about 1 in. wide, 1 1/2 in. long, and 1 in. thick). Put tofu in a wide, shallow bowl. Mix 1 tsp. salt with 2 cups very hot or just-boiled water and pour over tofu to just cover. Let sit 15 minutes. Transfer tofu to a double layer of paper towels set on a plate and let drain 10 minutes. I drained my tofu between 2 plates with a big cookbook stacked on top.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp. oil in a large frying pan or dutch oven over medium heat. Fry shallots, stirring occasionally, until light golden, 9 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and curry leaves and fry 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until light and crisp. Add curry powder, remove from heat, and stir to aromatize spices. Using a slotted spoon or skimmer, transfer seasonings to a bowl, leaving most of fragrant oil in pan.
- Blot tofu dry. Add more oil to pan, if needed, to film bottom and heat to medium-high. Fry tofu, turning once, until golden, 4 to 5 minutes (it won’t be crisp).
- Lower heat slightly and return all but 1 tbsp. shallot mixture to pan. Add carrots, broccoli, green beans, mushrooms, and peppers to pan, stir and let cook a few minutes. Add coconut milk, bamboo shoots, lemongrass, and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add baby corn, stir and cook 3 to 5 minutes. Gently stir in fish sauce. Let the curry simmer on low heat on the stove for at least 10 minutes to let the flavors meld.
- Transfer to a serving bowl and top with herbs and rest of shallots. Serve with rice or quinoa.