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Red Curry Stir-Fry with Tofu & Long Beans

Red Curry Stir-Fry with Tofu & Long Beans (Tao Hoo Pad Prik King) - Note to vegans, this dish contains a salted duck egg, but you can omit it and still have a tasty dish by adding a little extra soy sauce. The creamy salted egg yolk is incorporated into the sauce, adding a savoury richness that happens to work well as a shrimp paste substitute. The egg white, which has the consistency of a soft cheese, adds bursts of saltiness, much like crumbled feta cheese over a Greek salad. You may be tempted to skip frying the tofu, but it’s quite important here, as frying creates a rough surface that allows the sauce to cling well, and it also prevents the tofu from crumbling in the wok.

Serves: 3–4
Cooking Time: 30 minutes + 30 minutes if making the curry paste
Special Tools: Heavy-duty mortar and pestle, or another device for making curry paste
Do-ahead Tips: Make the curry paste in advance.
Tao hoo = Tofu; Pad = Stir-fry; Prik = Chilies; King = Ginger (but there is no ginger in the recipe!)
Red Curry Stir-Fry with Tofu & Long Beans Recipe

Ingredients

  • As needed Vegetable oil for deep-frying
  • 11 oz Extra-firm tofu, 1- × ½- × ½-inch pieces
  • 1 Cooked salted duck egg (see note, omit if vegan)
  • 1 recipe Vegan red curry paste or use 4 Tbsp store-bought paste
  • 1½ Tbsp Palm sugar, finely chopped, packed
  • 2 tsp Soy sauce
  • ¼–½ cup Water
  • 5 Kaffir lime leaves, very thinly julienned, set some aside for garnish
  • 20 Long beans, 1½-inch pieces
  • For garnish Spur chili, thin rounds, or red bell pepper, julienned (optional)
  • For serving Jasmine rice

How to make Red Curry Stir-Fry with Tofu & Long Beans

  1. To fry the tofu, add 1 inch of oil to a small or medium pot and bring to 350°F over medium-high heat. Pat the tofu dry with paper towel, then fry in small batches for 1–2 minutes, or until the exterior is golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towel. Note: Tofu pieces like to stick to each other when frying; if this happens, let them fry for 30–40 seconds to firm up before pulling them apart, and they should separate easily.
  2. Cut the salted duck egg in half right through the shell with a knife. Scoop out the yolk into a small bowl. Scoop out the egg white with a spoon and chop it into small chunks, keeping it separate from the yolk.
  3. To a wok or a large sauté pan, add 2 Tbsp of oil, the curry paste, palm sugar, and soy sauce; stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the curry paste is aromatic. If the curry paste sticks to the pan, add a splash of water to loosen it. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the kaffir lime leaves and salted egg yolk, then mash the egg yolk until it’s combined with the curry paste.
  4. Add a splash of water to loosen the sauce into a pourable consistency. Turn the heat up to high, add the long beans, and toss to mix with the curry paste for 1 minute or until the beans are almost done to your liking. Add the fried tofu and salted egg white; toss until the tofu is evenly coated in the sauce and heated through. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  5. Transfer onto a plate and garnish with extra julienned kaffir lime leaves and spur chiles. Serve with jasmine rice.

Note: You can find salted duck eggs in most Chinese grocery stores; make sure the package says “cooked.”

Vegan Red Curry Paste

  • 8 Large dried chilies, seeded
  • 2 Small dried chilies, seeded (see note)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • ¼ tsp White peppercorns
  • 2 Tbsp Lemongrass, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp Galangal, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Kaffir lime zest, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Cilantro roots or 1 Tbsp cilantro stems, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp Shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic, finely chopped

How to make Vegan Red Curry Paste

  1. Grind the dry chilies into a powder using a spice/coffee grinder OR soak the chilies in water for at least an hour to soften. (See Tips for Making Curry Paste in a Mortar and Pestle.)
  2. If using ground chilies:
  3. In a heavy-duty mortar and pestle add the salt, white peppercorns, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime zest, and cilantro roots; pound into a fine paste.
  4. Add the ground chilies; pound to mix.
  5. Add the shallots and garlic; pound into a fine paste.
  6. If using soaked chilies:
  7. In a heavy-duty mortar and pestle, add the chilies, salt, and white peppercorns; pound into a fine paste.
  8. Add the lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime zest, and cilantro roots; pound into a fine paste.
  9. Add the shallots and garlic; pound into a fine paste.

Note: Large dried chilies are mild, while small dried chilies are quite spicy, so you can control the curry paste’s spiciness by adding more or fewer of the small ones. Leave in the seeds of the small chilies for extra heat.
VEGETARIAN TRANSFORMATION
Pad prik king is a dish that is often turned vegetarian, because the intensity of the the curry paste makes the flavour resilient to ingredient changes. I replaced the fish sauce with soy sauce, as it’s a source of both saltiness and umami, but with so much flavour from the curry paste, salt would’ve worked fine. The shrimp paste in the red curry paste is omitted, but the salted egg yolk provides a similar savoury richness. We also often use texturized vegetable protein (TVP), a soy-based meat substitute, instead of tofu, which I quite like for its fun, chewy texture.

THE BREAKDOWN
The Style Thai
The Aromatic Vegetarian red curry paste, kaffir lime leaves
The Nuggets Tofu, long beans, salted egg white
The Sauce Soy sauce, palm sugar, salted egg yolk
Flavour Profile Salty and a little sweet.