Vietnamese curry

Possibly one of the best meals I've made in a long time; nostalgic home cookin' at its best. I had to force myself to stop eating it (or at least, distracted myself with pecan cookies.) Curry powders will vary a lot; the kind I like to use contains organic coriander, tumeric, cumin, mustard, pepper, fenugreek, and cayenne.

Vietnamese curry, makes about 4 servings
10 oz. firm tofu
2 tbs. cornstarch
canola oil
1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 2" segments and then in half lengthwise
2 bay leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium sweet onion, roughly sliced
2 c. chopped potatoes (I used a combination of Russet and Golden Sweet, but any starchy variety will work.)
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tbs. yellow curry powder
1 - 13.5 oz. can coconut milk
13.5 oz. water
1 1/2 c. chopped carrots
cilantro to garnish

Slice the tofu into bite-sized pieces and toss with cornstarch. Fry in a small amount of canola oil over medium-high heat until lightly golden. Drain on a paper towel and set aside. If you substitute another protein source (seitan would be nice), you can skip this prep, and just use it on its own. I just prefer the texture of lightly fried tofu.

Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a large pan (one that has a lid). Saute the lemongrass, bay leaves, garlic, onion, potatoes, and salt over medium heat for about 7-8 minutes. You want to get a little color on the potatoes, but not caramelize the onions and garlic to death. Mix in the curry powder and cook for another minute or two.

Pour in the can of coconut milk, then fill the can with water to get the last of that coconutty goodness, and pour the water in as well. Add the carrots and place the lid on the pan. Simmer over medium-low heat for about 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are just tender. Toss in the tofu and continue to simmer over medium heat for a few more minutes, to heat the tofu again. The potatoes will release a little starch into the sauce, but it really shouldn't be eaten too thick. If it starts to thicken up too much, you can add a little water or unsweetened soy milk.

At this point, salt and pepper to taste. I threw in some sriracha as well, to up the heat.

Garnish with fresh, chopped cilantro. You can serve with rice, but I much prefer a toasty, sweet baguette, one of the few perks of French Imperialism.


Jenna said...

looks so good! Do you have a particular brand of curry powder you would recommend? I have a feeling mine is pretty shitty/low quality.

mel said...

The kind is use comes from this company: I chose it because it was organic, affordable, and seemed to contain a nice straightforward combination of spices. It's also not very spicy, so I can adjust the heat level on my own, depending on what I'm in the mood for.

There are brands I've seen that contain a gazillion spices that I don't think I have the refined tongue to even distinguish between, and others that seemed to contain things that wouldn't taste anything like curry (ex. I recently saw one that just had a list of various vegetable extracts). A lot of it comes down to personal preference as well. I'm sure most traditional family recipes are completely different from each other, since some folks will probably prefer a stronger cumin flavor, or more fenugreek, etc.

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

Ooh, I want this!

Autumn said...

hmmm, can you give more instruction on how to cook the tofu? i followed your directions with firm tofu and it was mushy and never really turned lightly golden . . .