In Thailand, dishes that are considered curries are made with a paste which varies regionally and ranges from mild to very hot. Unlike their neighbors in India, Thai curries feature more fresh ingredients. Both Indian and Thai curries have complex flavors created by the blending of ingredients. India uses dried spices but Thai curries are flavored with a number of fresh herbs and aromatic leaves. Today, I’m offering you a Panang curry that’s both aromatic and mild. Unlike most Thai curries, this one is made with tofu.
For those of you who have not taken the leap, here is your opportunity to try tofu. I doubt that you will be disappointed. Before you get to the ingredients, let me also point out the use of fish sauce. Yes, it is made from fermented fish but don’t dwell on that aspect. Remember this instead: when fish sauce is combined with other ingredients, your Thai curries taste better, period. Fish sauce doesn’t dominate the flavors, it enhances them.
Unlike the northern regions of Thailand, this dish uses coconut milk that adds a delicate, yet deeply rich component to the overall taste. Be sure to breathe deeply as you prepare this dish; you’ll really enjoy the experience.
PANANG TOFU CURRY
1 13.5 oz can coconut milk
1 tblsp panang curry paste
1 tblsp dark brown sugar
zest from 1 lime, grated
1 tblsp fish sauce
1 jalapeno, seeded with ribs removed, sliced into thin strips
2 thin slices red onion, quartered
6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 baby bok choy, sliced
1 cup bean sprouts
7 oz firm tofu, cubed
1-2 green onions, green tops only, chopped
2 tblsp cilantro, chopped
optional: Thai chili paste – add an additional ¼ to ½ tsp per serving
Preheat the Grillet to 300 degrees.
Pour into the pot the coconut milk, curry paste, brown sugar, lime zest, fish sauce, jalapeno, red onion, and basil leaves. Stir and cook for a few minutes, turning down heat if it begins to boil. Add bok choy and bean sprouts and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Gently mix in tofu so as not to break it up. Cover and heat for another minute.
Serve in soup bowls and garnish with the green onion and cilantro mixture. If desired, stir in Thai chili paste.
Note: This dish can be eaten as a soup, or over rice. It can also be made with thinly sliced beef, chicken, or fish in place of the tofu.