I absolutely adore Thai food, but I never get to have it because the rest of the fam is kind of meh about it. About ten years back, my coworkers and I would order it all the freaking time for lunch. We were total addicts… sigh, those were the days. When another warrior made a Thai-inspired dish last week, I started craving it. The green and beige ingredients in this week’s battle totally screamed Thai to me. Or maybe I was just getting desperate for some panang or yum nurr or kee maow… Mmm, thai.
The only option for me this week was to make a green curry (my fave). I usually order the thinly-sliced chicken in my green curry, so I hoped that tofu would make a good substitute. I knew I needed to also add the sweet Thai basil and acorn-shaped Thai eggplant, which really make the dish for me. Unfortunately, neither of these can be purchased in any of my neighborhood markets (I couldn’t even get them in my beloved Wegmans). There are no Asian supermarkets in the immediate vicinity, and I never made the 25-minute trek to the nearest one. I know, I know, I shouldn’t complain… 25 minutes is NOT too far to go for an Asian market. But I’m still surprised and confused that I don’t have one even closer, given how awesome this region is for food variety.
I decided that I would leave out the eggplant and substitute with other vegetables: snow peas, of course, and spinach only because we already had it. I briefly contemplated adding potatoes, but decided against it at the last minute. I got VERY lucky with the Thai basil, though. By purely random coincidence, my mom came over yesterday and brought some homemade pho (which was REALLY yum). She also had a baggie of Thai basil leaves and Thai chilis so I could throw them in the soup. If I had known she was bringing this, I might have asked her to get some Thai eggplant too.
Since I didn’t make the Asian market excursion, I also had to use prepared green curry paste. I usually am that girl who makes everything from scratch, so this was a little bit of a disappointment to me. But I had no access to galangal and some of the other classic ingredients in curry paste, so I didn’t want to risk making it wrong. I decided to make the store-bought paste “my own” by adding some additional flavors, and I was also mighty happy that I had a bunch of dried kaffir lime leaves in the spice closet. Late in the game, though, I realized I had to replace yet another classic Thai ingredient: granulated sugar for palm sugar.
The whole house smelled yum while it was cooking… even the husband said so, and he prefers ANY restaurant over Thai. My Alpha peeps would have been proud. The thinly-sliced tofu was a perfect substitute for the chicken. I think I overcooked the veggies a bit but that’s OK. I wish I had garnished up the photo a little… it does not look as yum as it smelled and tasted. The husband ate the whole bowl, but said it was a smidge too spicy for him. Wimp. We both agreed that it needed something heftier or chunkier in the curry… the thin-sliced tofu, thin snow peas and wilted spinach all left it, well, kind of flat. THAI EGGPLANT, I REALLY, REALLY MISSED YOU. Even some potatoes might have helped in that regard. In the end, though, it tasted great and I got my Thai fix. Or maybe I’ll need to head out for more today. Or at least to the Asian market.
Thai Green Curry with Cilantro-Lime Tofu and Sesame Rice
- 2 Tbsp green curry paste
- 1/2 tsp lemongrass (I used Gourmet Garden puree)
- 1/2 tsp ginger, minced
- 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp chili peppers, minced (or to taste)
- 1 block tofu (14 oz)
- 2 limes (1 juiced and 1 peeled and sliced)
- 1 bunch cilantro leaves
- 1 can coconut milk (14 oz)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 5 kaffir lime leaves
- 10 sweet Thai basil leaves
- 1 cup snow peas, halved
- 2 cups spinach leaves
- 2 cups prepared jasmine rice
- 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
Prepare green curry paste, adding lemongrass, ginger, garlic and chili pepper.
Dry the tofu by covering it with a paper towel in a bowl and microwaving for about 5 minutes. Squeeze juice of one lime over the block of tofu and cover with cilantro leaves. Let marinate, then dry it again in the microwave for a few more minutes. Slice thinly.
Heat coconut milk (from the top of the can) in a saucepan with 1 cup water. Boil it for about two minutes so it separates. Add the curry paste and fish sauce and continue boiling the thick mixture for a few more minutes. Add the coconut water (from the bottom of the can) and the sugar and combine. Add the sliced tofu and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the lime leaves, basil leaves, snow peas, spinach, and slices of the second lime. Heat through, wilting the spinach and softening the snow peas.
Stir sesame seeds into fluffy jasmine rice, and serve with hot curry.