This Thai red curry with tofu is made with eggplant and bell peppers simmered in a spicy coconut milk base and topped with fresh basil leaves.
I promised a recipe using my red curry paste from earlier this week, and here it is! Coming up with a curry recipe is never very difficult, once you’ve got the paste. Your basic Thai curry generally requires two ingredients: paste and coconut milk. That’s it! Aside from that you’ve got a lot of freedom. I always go with tofu and veggies, and that’s what you’ll find in most restaurant Thai curries, or at least the meatless ones. On my some of my more experimental days I’ve included tempeh, noodles, and even beans.
This is a pretty basic red curry with tofu and veggies, and it’s absolutely delicious. The eggplant ended up in there on a whim, after I found a couple of mature ones ready for picking in the garden. Including it was the best decision ever, as it soaked up the coconut milk beautifully.
I highly recommend making the paste yourself. It’s delicious, not as tough as you’d think, and you know exactly what went into it. If you do opt for store bought, just be careful and read labels, as most will contain fish sauce, shrimp paste, or something else you don’t want to ingest if you’re a vegetarian. I always suggest Maesri as a brand for anyone opting to purchase their curry paste. You might need to adjust the coconut milk to curry ratio if you go with commercial paste, regardless of the brand, as there’s a lot of variation in flavor intensities. Particularly with red curries, you walk a fine line between “Mmmmm, spicy,” and “Mmmmmouth is on fire!!!”
That brings me to another point: this is hot. If you’re really not big on heat, try another curry (massaman is nice). If you’re not into too much heat, but want to flirt with danger, try starting out with less curry paste than the recipe calls for. I generally go for spicy. My boyfriend goes for mild. Every now and then I taste test a meal that I’ve prepared for us both and realize it’s going to be way to hot for him. This was one of those meals. I ended up adding some extra coconut milk to his dish, which is a great way to save a curry that’s turned out too strong, along with a few splashes of soy sauce, because the extra coconut milk dilutes the other flavors in the curry paste as well.
- 2½ cups (about 1½ cans) coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon red curry paste (store-bought or homemade), or to taste
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 medium eggplant, sliced into ¼ to ½ inch thick strips
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 lb. extra firm tofu, drained and pressed for at least 15 minutes
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- ½ cup fresh basil
- Place coconut milk and curry paste in large saucepan. Stir to blend.
- Coat a large skillet with vegetable oil and place over medium heat. Arrange eggplant strips in a single layer. Cook until browned on each side, about 3 minutes per side.
- Transfer eggplant to saucepan with coconut milk and curry. Add onion. Bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes, while you prepare your tofu.
- Cut tofu into bite sized cubes or strips. Place in your skillet (the one you used for the eggplant) and heat to medium-high. Cook until lightly browned on each side, about 5 minutes per side.
- Transfer tofu to saucepan with coconut milk and curry. Add red pepper and simmer another 5 minutes, until tender.
- Add basil just before serving.
- Serve with rice.