November 7, 2009

Thai Green Curry with Tofu and Eggplant

I love Thai curry (and indian curry. and japanese curry.... well, I've yet to meet a curry I don't like). Recently, I set out to learn how to make Thai curry. Turns out it's not all that hard - I'd say it's about as complicated as making a stew. This was the second attempt, the first having been successful enough to repeat.

I picked up some Mae Ploy green curry paste at the local market, which I erroneously thought would be vegetarian. Turns out it contains shrimp paste! Who knew? (Sorry Niv!) I also got Thai eggplant, which is an adorably tiny, round, (sometimes) green variety of eggplant that is a bit seedier than the large, purple, bulbous version I've grown up knowing. Trying out new types of eggplant was fun, so for this second attempt, I also picked up Chinese eggplant, which is more cylindrical than bulbous, and significantly softer than the Thai eggplant. Before I ramble too much longer, here is the list full list of ingredients*:
For the curry base:
3-4 Tbsp Green curry paste
1 can Coconut milk + same can's worth of water
1 can Vegetable broth
1 Tbsp Tomato paste
1 Tbsp Butter
1 large yellow Onion, chopped
1ish lb Thai eggplant, cut into approximately equal sized chunks
2 medium Chinese eggplants, as above
2 cans Straw Mushrooms, drained
1 can Bamboo Shoots, drained
2 Red Bell Peppers, sliced
1 box Firm Tofu, pressed** and cut into .5x1x2 in rectangular prisms

Combine the ingredients for the base in a saucepan over medium heat. The butter and tomato paste are to augment the flavor and hopefully deepen it a little. I think it was successful, but next time I'll probably try something different.
Saute the onions in about 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a wok (or large skillet) until tender, ~4-5 mins. Add them to the curry base. In the same wok, heat the eggplant until it becomes fragrant, ~4-5 mins. Pour the curry base with onions into the skillet over the eggplant. Add the mushrooms and bamboo shoots.
In a smaller saute pan, pan fry the tofu in about 2 Tbsp olive oil until lightly golden on both sides. Add to the curry. Finally, add the bell peppers.
Let simmer for at least 5 minutes, longer is better, to let the flavors meld and the eggplant to continue to soften.

As you can see, this makes a LOT of curry. Woo! leftovers.

Oh, and I guess I should mention - serve with rice.

*All measurements are EXTREMELY rough. If you're replicating this, assume everything is "to taste."

**Pressing tofu is done to remove the excess water, and really helps in the cooking process. My method comes from the Cafe Flora cookbook. Basically put the tofu blocks on a plate, cover with saran wrap, stack another plate loaded with a few cans to add weight. Leave for about an hour (don't be surprised if the stack falls at some point, it can be precarious). When you come back, the water from the tofu will have been released. YAY

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