Recipe | Thai Red Curry with Asparagus and Tofu

Thai Red Curry with Asparagus & Tofu
I love Thai food, but it’s very rare that I cook a Thai recipe and have it turn out right. Even when it’s good, it’s just slightly off. It always tastes like a pale imitation of real Thai food. It’s like when you go to a Chinese buffet and you get a slice of pizza from the hot bar. It has crust and cheese and tomato sauce, but there’s just something wrong about it. So when I decided to make this Thai Red Curry with Asparagus and Tofu recipe, I figured it would be the same–it would never taste like real Thai red curry. But I was psyched about the prospect of asparagus in a curry dish, so I had to try it.

Guess what? This actually tastes like restaurant-style red curry. It really does! Okay, maybe not the asparagus part–I have yet to encounter an asparagus curry on a Thai takeout menu. But the sauce? It has that nice sweet-and-spicy balance (not to mention the creamy texture from the coconut milk) that I love about Thai curries.

Thai Red Curry in Skillet
So that’s the good news. Here’s the not-so-good news. The original recipe I adapted this from called for rice noodles. I used those and I think this would have been much better with rice–in fact, next time I make this, I will definitely be making it with rice. Curries are saucy and rice soaks up sauce much better than noodles. Oh, and if you’re not a tofu fan, try adding more veggies instead–mushrooms and snow peas would be great in this curry.

Thai Red Curry with Asparagus and Tofu

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 4

Thai Red Curry with Asparagus and Tofu

A vegetarian red curry adapted from Everyday Food's Beef-and-Asparagus Curry.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. peanut oil (canola or vegetable oil works too)
  • 14 oz. extra-firm tofu, pressed for 30 minutes (you can use a tofu press), cut into triangles
  • 1-13.5 oz. can light unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 c. red curry paste
  • 3/4 c. vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb. asparagus, tough ends removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • cooked rice or rice noodles, lime wedges, and cilantro leaves for serving

Instructions

  1. Heat peanut oil in large wok or skillet over medium high heat. Add tofu triangles and cook for 5 minutes; flip tofu over and cook 5 minutes more on other side. Place tofu on a plate lined with paper towels (to soak up excess oil) and wipe out skillet (carefully!).
  2. Return skillet to medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup of coconut milk and cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens (about 2 minutes). Stir in red curry paste and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Add remaining coconut milk, broth, soy sauce, and sugar. Once sauce comes to a simmer, add red pepper; cook for 2 minutes. Stir in asparagus and cook 3 minutes more. Return tofu to skillet and stir until coated with curry sauce. Remove from heat and serve over noodles or rice; garnish with lime wedges and cilantro.
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Kiersten Frase

About Kiersten

Kiersten is the founder and editor of Oh My Veggies. She loves cooking, trashy reality shows, and Hello Kitty. Kiersten also blogs about blogging at kierstenfrase.com.   Read more from Kiersten →

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Comments

    • Kiersten Frase says

      I think it would be fine without brown sugar. It gives it a subtle sweet flavor, but if you don’t mind omitting that, I don’t think it would be a problem. Otherwise, I think agave nectar would work…

  1. says

    I love red curry, and I think asparagus would work really well in it, even if its not particularly authentic. It’s the taste that matters, so if you managed to create a good Thai recipe that you love, then I think that’s impressive!

  2. says

    I love Thai food! We were so spoiled in NYC with amazing Thai restaurants on every corner, but now I’m left to making it on my own. I’m looking forward to trying this one and agree rice with curry is a home run. :)

    • Kiersten Frase says

      Let me know if you ever find a good, authentic tasting pad Thai recipe. Because I would LOVE to be able to make that, but every recipe I’ve tried tastes nothing like pad Thai at all. And yes, curry is made for rice! The noodles were okay, but they don’t soak up the sauce very well.

  3. says

    I need to find a cheaper version of curry paste so I can try Thai recipes at home! Those little tiny jars are so expensive, but I think I’ve seen bigger tubs at Asian markets for half the price .. I’m definitely searching for them next time I go, I can’t wait to make my own curries!

    • says

      I find that prices at Asian markets are substantially cheaper than shopping in the ‘ethnic aisle’ of a major grocery store, and there’s more selection.

  4. says

    Ooooh, this also looks like a great way to make tofu. I have never tried making my own curry, but I definitely love eating it when I go out. Such a colorful and tasty looking recipe!

    • Kiersten Frase says

      I tried making Thai curry a few times in the past and they were overwhelmingly spicy–so much so that the spiciness drowned out all the other flavors. This one is so much better and super, super easy!

    • Kiersten Frase says

      Now that I’ve had success with curry, I need to give pad Thai another try. I’ve made so many different recipes and they always turn out so bland and NOT like pad Thai at all. I bet spring rolls would be easy to make!

      You’re the first person to mention my redesign, which worries me. I hope it’s not a case of “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!” ;)

  5. says

    They serve pizza at Chinese buffets?? lol I hear of fried chicken and french fries, but that’s one I haven’t heard. I know how you feel though, I feel like my Indian dishes never taste like the restaurants’. And I love rice noodles, but rice is always the best gravy-soaker. :) I am a big tofu fan, and I’m definitely trying this one!

    • Kiersten Frase says

      Yes, they do! I think I’ve been to a Chinese buffet about twice in the past 10 years and both times, I ended up getting pizza to round out my plate because there weren’t many vegetarian options. And both times, I realized that was a bad decision.

      I hope you like the recipe if you try it–definitely serve it with rice! I’m not a big tofu fan, but I love it when it’s fried in a little bit of oil to make it chewy. :)

  6. says

    I love the way you incorporated seasonal veggies into the mix! My Thai food is always a little off too – I don’t know what the deal is. I’ve never tried red curry though or any curry paste – does it end up tasting/smelling differently than curry powder?

    • Kiersten Frase says

      I think curry powder is Indian food and paste is Thai food. The flavor is totally different because I think the curry powder is just ground up curry leaves, but the curry paste has lots of different spices added in. And the curry paste doesn’t have that curry powder smell at all. You like spicy food, so I bet you’d like it!

  7. says

    Thai Kitchen red curry paste is what we have, too. I do need to start putting the Asian market into my rounds– I know I can get young coconuts, curry paste, and lots of other things there for less. Pad Thai is never going to be on my menu because I can’t have peanuts, but I have been making Asian-style sauces using almond butter instead (along with the usual Asian type ingredients like sesame, ginger, tamari, and rice vinegar).

    • Kiersten Frase says

      I need to start taking advantage of our local Asian market too. Whenever I go there, I usually go for a few specific things (and the mango smoothies) and forget to look to see what else they have.

  8. Karen says

    Our local Thai restaurant has a black bean curry dish specialty that features asparagus and cashews. I keep trying to duplicate it with no success. I’ve come up with some good dishes but they don’t taste the same. I’m going to try this with chicken and black bean sauce to see…..

  9. says

    Delicious! Made this tonight with about 90% of the red curry paste listed (for my spice tolerance). I would also cook the red bell pepper for one extra minute since hubby likes veggies a little more cooked! Coconut plus curry = GOOD! Thanks for this recipe!

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