Exercise in Procrastination: Thai Red Curry Vermicelli with Crumbled Tofu, Sweet Potatoes, and Peas

DSCN0617It’s finals week and I seem to have developed the desire to not study. It’s not like you can blame me though. With each of my finals spaced out with a couple of days in between, I don’t feel an urge to cram, panic, or scream in desperation. All is calm before the storm, well for now anyways.

While I wait for some sort of impending doom to approach, I have been able to reconquer my kitchen and cook up a new recipe.

Asian food has been on my mind a lot lately. After having trapezed all over Europe the last few years, I’m feeling the need to find a new travel target. I don’t know if I’ll actually be getting to Asia anytime soon, so until then I’m going to make the most of my efforts to attempt cooking dishes from all over the region.

This dish is my take on both a traditional Thai red curry and the Malaysian noodle dish, laksa. It’s quite the roughDSCN0612 interpretation though because I’m not sure if it remotely resembles either, but don’t let that discourage you. It is still full of flavor, singing of the sweet spiciness from the red curry paste paired with a delicate sweetness from the sweet potatoes, cooked until just mushy. The tofu, cleverly called crumbled because I made the mistake of using the silken variety, adds bulk and absorbs the flavors of the curry so well. In fact this curry would be just as great on its own, spooned over a nice bed of steamed jasmine rice. However, because I wanted to turn this into a one pot meal, I threw in some vermicelli, or rice noodles, at the last-minute, creating something equally delicious.

Recipe: Thai Red Curry Vermicelli with Crumbled Tofu, Sweet Potato, and Peas

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 8 oz tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • a handful of frozen peas
  • 1 14 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric, optional
  • 4 oz vermicelli (rice noodles)
  • salt, to taste

Method

DSCN06021. Pour a third of the coconut milk into a large saucepan and heat over high heat, until most of the liquid evaporates and only the coconut fat remains, about 3-5 minutes.

2. Add the red curry paste and quickly stir it in, allowing an oily sheen to appear along the sides of the mixture, about 1-2 minutes.DSCN0607

3. Add the jalapeno and ginger and cook for a minute, until fragrant. Then add the ground turmeric, if using, and brown sugar, and stir to combine.

4. Mix in the sweet potatoes and stir to coat them evenly with the curry mixture, about 5 minutes. Then add the peas and rest of the coconut milk. Season to taste with salt.

DSCN06095. Allow the mixture to come to a boil, adding a little water, if it seems to thick. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 15-20 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are soft and tender (this can be tested by poking them with a knife and seeing if it goes through easily).

6. Add the tofu and cook for about 5 minutes, allowing it to warm through. Meanwhile, soak the vermicelli in boiling water for about 3 minutes.

7. Add the soaked vermicelli to the curry and toss it around to coat the noodles evenly. Serve warm.

Cooking Notes:

  • Use firm tofu if you want to the cubes to stay intact or silken tofu if you want to take the “crumbled” approach.
  • This curry would also taste great with chicken or shrimp in place of the tofu.
  • For a more traditional taste, add a couple of tablespoons of fish sauce while cooking out the curry paste. It adds a wonderful savory flavor that’s not fishy at all. Just keep in mind that it is quite salty to adjust the seasoning accordingly.
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