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