If you’ve been frequenting this recipe for a while, don’t be alarmed by the change in photos. It’s the same recipe—just with a much-needed makeover in the photo + styling department ;)
Of course, in order to re-photograph this recipe, I had to make it again and gosh, I’m so glad I did. I forgot just how flippin’ delicious this creamy and punchy curry is!
This recipe came to fruition a few years ago when I went pescetarian. Initially, we thought that cooking for both pescetarian and omnivore (for my husband) diets would pose an interesting challenge. Fortunately, a lot of dishes we enjoy are flexible and welcome tofu or shrimp instead of chicken, beef, or pork.
This Easy Thai Red Curry With Tofu is a perfect example of that.
Now that I’ve phased poultry back into my diet things have definitely gotten easier—but when we make this curry, it’s always with crispy tofu. That’s how good it is; nothing beats the way that crispy tofu soaks up all of that yummy and tangy sauce.
I know there are a lot of tofu skeptics out there, but if you cook it properly, it’s magical. Nobody wants to eat a watery sponge, which is essentially what tofu is when you initially unpack it. But taking the right steps to bring it to a golden crisp is life-changing.
And I’m going to tell you how to do it.
How to get crispy tofu.
For years I was pressing my tofu an hour before starting meal prep. It seemed like a legit method — and with a quick toss in some starch and a trip through the air fryer, I always ended up with crispy tofu.
But there’s a new method in town, and it’s chill AF.
Freeze your tofu overnight, then boil it. (Whut?) Yes. Ready for a science lesson?
Freezing tofu is fabulous for three reasons: it gives tofu a chewier, meatier texture; it helps tofu suck up marinades; and it stays in good shape if you happen to forget about it after buying it. (Guilty.)
And instead of leaving it out to thaw on its own, just carefully give it a swim in some boiling salted water.
I know that boiling tofu sounds counterproductive when what we’re trying to do is remove the liquid from it. But boiling tofu in salted water pulls the moisture from it, leaving you with the same result from pressing in a fraction of the time. BOOM.
Easy Thai Red Curry With Tofu.
Or not with tofu. If you’re reading this and thinking, “Damn, this would be great with this protein… then DO IT. This recipe is super flexible. You can also swap the veggies I’ve used for veggies you’d prefer. I’ve made his with broccoli before and it. was. dynamite.
If you do come up with your own alterations, let me know about it in the comments.
If you make this dish, snap a photo and tag me on the Insta @killing__thyme! I love seeing your creations, and you could be featured in my monthly newsletter <3
Easy Thai Red Curry With Tofu
This Easy Thai Red Curry With Tofu is super flavorful and extremely flexible. Though this recipe uses crispy tofu, you can swap in any protein from shrimp to chicken.
- 16 oz extra firm tofu, cubed and fried to a golden crisp *See instructions below
Optional Tofu Marinade.
- 1 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 TBSP tamari or soy sauce
- 2 TBSP sesame oil
- 1 TBSP honey or brown sugar
- 3 TBSP rice vinegar
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper Green bell peppers don't carry the same sweetness as the aforementioned, so it isn't recommended
- 1 cup thinly sliced baby bella mushrooms
- 3 TBSP red Thai curry paste
- 13 oz coconut milk
- 1 TBSP fish sauce (optional; leave out to make this dish vegetarian)
- 1 TBSP sambal oelek chili sauce More or less, depending on how much heat you want.
- 1 lime, zest and juice Zest the lime before juicing it.
- Ribboned Thai basil
- Thinly sliced scallions
Optional Tofu Marinade.
Toss all of the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl. Place your tofu in a large freezer bag or sealable container and pour the marinade over top. Cover, give it a light shake, and place in the fridge to marinade for 30-40 minutes.
Slice an opening in tofu packet, drain, and seal in a plastic bag. Place the tofu in the freezer overnight. About 30 minutes before you want to start dinner, remove the tofu from the freezer and bring a pot of salted water to a boil. (Make sure the pot is large enough so that the tofu brick can be fully submerged.) When the water is boiling, carefully place the tofu in the water and let it boil for 15 minutes. When done, carefully remove the tofu from the water with tongs and place on a plate or cutting board lined with paper towels. Lightly squeeze the block of tofu with paper towels to rid of excess water. Set aside to cool. (If you're marinating the tofu, do this about an hour earlier so you can get a solid 30-40 minutes of marinating time in before cooking.)
Once the tofu has cooled, cut it into 1/2 x 1/2-inch cubes.
Heat a skillet over moderate heat and add 1 TBSP of olive oil. Add the cubed tofu and sear for about five minutes on one side. Give the tofu a few splashed of tamari or soy sauce if you'd like, for extra flavor. (You can add other aromatics to the pan, but add them closer to the end of cooking time. Especially garlic, since garlic will burn and just become bitter.) After five minutes or once the tofu has developed a golden crisp, carefully flip over and crisp up the other side. All in all, this should take about 10 minutes. When your tofu is done, remove from heat, cover to keep warm, and set aside. Then start your curry.
Red Thai Curry.
In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, bring 1/4 cup of water to a simmer over moderate heat. Add the minced onion, garlic, and fresh ginger. Stir to combine, and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the garlic is fragrant and the onions are translucent.
Add the sliced red bell pepper and mushrooms. Stir in the 3 tablespoons of red curry paste and stir until the veggies are evenly coated.
Add the coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice, and lime zest. Stir until the curry paste has dissolved into the liquid and there are no clumps. Let the curry simmer for about 15 minutes on low. Don't let it simmer much longer than that, or the liquid will reduce.
If you're serving rice with your curry, start to prepare that now as per the package's instructions.
Once the rice is ready, serve in a bowl and spoon the curry over the rice. Top with crispy tofu and garnish with fresh Thai basil ribbons and sliced scallions.
**This recipe used to call for the tofu being tossed in corn starch post-marinade and before frying. You can still do this. If you do, be sure to shake the excess starch off before frying the tofu so you don't end up with clumps. The reason I've omitted this step from the recipe is to simplify it since freezing + boiling the tofu in salt water has proven to bring the tofu to a nice crisp. Marinating it is optional.