I’m in the middle of studying for my preliminary exams. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, preliminary exams are a rite of passage for all PhD students where your advisory committee can ask you just about anything under the sun in your area of study. I mean literally anything. Given that my area of study is environmental conservation, that really narrows it down to just about, well, everything under the sun. 😉 To be fair, my committee did suggest some broad topics and associated buttloads of reading. I’ve been putting away 700-1000 pages a week so far and have just begun to whittle down my thigh-high reading pile. But today, I hit a wall. I simply couldn’t read anymore. Couldn’t care to take notes. Couldn’t really think. It was time for a break. So, I gave myself one. The whole afternoon off. I know, I really let my hair down on that one. But it did me a world of good. And to top off my day, I wanted to cook myself a stress free meal filled with veggies and deliciousness. As you can imagine, I haven’t really been cooking lately and my diet has mostly consisted of pizza and Trader Joe’s pre-made meals.
Thai coconut curry to the rescue! This is another one of those recipes I’ve been making for years now. The recipe is for the tofu version, but most meats will work fine (chicken, beef, halibut, etc.). And, I finally figured out how to get the tofu nice and browned, restaurant-style. So, without further ado…
- 1 package extra firm tofu
- 1 Tbs. Thai red curry paste
- 1/2 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
- 3 Tbs. butter
- 1 15 oz. can coconut milk
- 2 Tbs. brown sugar
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
- Juice of one lime
- 1 red bell pepper, julienned
- 2-3 large carrots, peeled and julienned
- 2-3 stalks of celery, sliced cross-ways
- 1. Drain the tofu and squeeze any excess liquid out. Then wrap in a dishtowel and squeeze some more. You want it to be as liquid-free as possible. Cut into bite-sized squares.
- 2. Spray a saucepan with a light layer of cooking spray and put on medium heat. The less oil the better. Once hot, add the tofu. Sprinkle the tofu with a little salt. Let cook for about 3 minutes on each side or until it releases easily from the bottom of the pan and is golden brown. Remove from pan.
- 3. Add butter, red curry paste, and red pepper flakes to the same pan and mix well. Add the coconut milk and sugar and stir until heated.
- 4. Add the veggies and basil and simmer until vegetables are just heated through — shouldn’t be more than a few minutes.
- 5. Add the tofu back in. Add the lime juice, mix until all is heated and serve.
- Any veggie combo is good here as is really any protein (chicken, beef, fish). If you like things a little more on the mild side, omit the red pepper flakes. To make really mild, halve the amount of red curry paste. Serve over a bed of rice.