Green Tofu Curry with Brown Rice

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I have a bone to pick with tofu.

You know how when you go to a Thai restaurant with your vegetarian friend and he/she orders something with tofu in it and it comes back to the table all beautifully nestled in a vibrant sauce with colorful vegetables and the tofu is in DISGUSTINGLY PERFECT little squares, masterfully crisped and golden brown on all sides with no signs of breakage and then your friend flicks your nostrils for being 2 inches away from her food?

OKAY.

That has to be fried, right? Like, deep fryer plunge business?

BECAUSE.

I’m PO’d. First of all, take a look at my tofu in this here picture.

All tow up to hayell and back. And the package said EXTRA-FIRM. I never learn. I always buy extra-firm tofu and when I go to open the box, it squishes all up in there like dang mashed potatoes. If it’s going to say EXTRA-FIRM, it needs to BE EXTRA-FIRM. Just like my abdominal muscles.

Oh.

 

My original plan was to lightly crisp the tofu squares in a little oil before tossing them into the curry. The way in it looks in the restaurants, ja kner?

WELL.

A) How can one cut the tofu INTO little squares when the stupid box crushed it all to smithereens?

And B) You should have seen how the sautéing went down. HA FAH-RICKIN’ HA. There was so much sticking and sweating and swearing and hair hurting and utter chaos that I nearly threw it all out in the front yard and served Cymbalta and scotch for dinner.

 

They’re so deep fried, aren’t they? It’s the only way.

Even if it looks like my tofu got stomped on by a dinosaur, I need to be straight with you regarding the flavors of this curry dish.

Baby. Got. Back.

Creamy coconut sauce with a mild but rich green curry flavor, just stop. Crisp-tender veggies that will drop kick your mouth. T-O-N-S of fresh lime juice that will send your esophagus on a joy ride. Nutty brown rice that make your stomach want to make out with it. Grassy herbs that will send your mind into a state of I DON’T EVEN KNOW.

And the little tofu sponges soak up all the rich flavors so wonderfully that you’ll forget about the nuclear breakdown that occurred only minutes before.

Someone teach me how to open a tofu box.

Green Tofu Curry with Brown Rice:

What it took for 2 HUNGRY adults (with maybe a little left over. So I bet you could get 4 small portions out of this. I’ll just get on with it.):

* 1 cup uncooked brown rice
* 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
* 2 Tbs. green curry paste (from a jar is fine)
* 1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk
* 2 cups sugar snap or snow peas
* 1 green red bell pepper, diced (seeds and stem discarded)
* 1 block extra-firm tofu, cut into a bite-sized dice
* 2 cups arugula (or your favorite green)
* 2 scallions, finely diced
* 1/2 cup cilantro
* 1 lime
* coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Cook the rice in a rice cooker or your favorite stovetop method.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the curry paste and press into the oil, blooming for a good minute. Whisk in 1/4th cup of the coconut milk to combine, then whisk in the remaining coconut milk and bring to a light simmer. Add the snow peas and simmer for 2 minutes.

Carefully add the tofu and the green bell pepper. Simmer another 2 minutes.

Stir in the arugula and half the scallions. Taste it. Yeah, add some salt and pepper. And while you’re at it, squeeze a gooooood amount of lime juice in. Taste it again. There we go.

Serve the curry over brown rice, garnished with the cilantro sprigs, remaining scallions and more lime slices.

* if you have the ability to crisp the tofu in a small frying pan without having a complete nervous breakdown, then by all means, dew eeeet.

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49 Responses to Green Tofu Curry with Brown Rice

  1. Ali @ Gimme Some Oven June 14, 2012 at 8:23 am #

    Girl, I think your tofu (is that plural?!?) are LOV-ER-LY. :)

    I admit that I’m crazy allergic to curry, but this LOOKS delish!

  2. dearabbyleigh June 14, 2012 at 8:36 am #

    opening tofu box: i slice a steak knife (ironic, right?) around the edges of the top plastic, at least three sides. then i turn it upside down over a sink and let the liquid drain out, then peel it back and flip it on to a plate with paper towels and put more paper towels and something heavy on top for a bit.

    it still falls a part, but i don’t get mad at the packaging so that’s a start :)

    • Bev Weidner June 14, 2012 at 9:27 am #

      Thaaaaank you for the tip!

    • Caitlin June 14, 2012 at 9:41 am #

      This is exactly what I do! Or, if I don’t want to bother with frying the cubes, I’ll just buy soft tofu and soak it extra long in the curry for some really creamy, luxurious flavors.. just like in the restaurants!

    • Gina @ Running to the Kitchen June 14, 2012 at 9:46 am #

      I do the same thing. Never thought of the irony of using a steak knife. Ha!

  3. Megan @ Country Cleaver June 14, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    I have a pathological fear of tofu for some unknown reason – I think that’s something I need to get over very quickly…because this. This needs to be made. Yummmmtown.

  4. Jolene June 14, 2012 at 9:37 am #

    My local Wal-Mart in my small town happens to sell already cubed tofu, it is awesome. Also, sometimes it helps if you press the tofu to get out the extra liquid before you cook it. You can buy an actual tofu press, or wrap the tofu in an absorbant towel, and put in on a plate with something heavy on top such as a big book. Do this for at least an hour and it will change your life.

    • Deanna B. June 14, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

      I was going to say press the tofu. Its a miracle worker.

  5. Jolene June 14, 2012 at 9:39 am #

    That should be “put it on a plate” not “put in on a plate” I really should proof read my stuff. Grammer foul.

  6. Emilie @ Emilie's Enjoyables June 14, 2012 at 9:44 am #

    omg crumbling tofu is the worst. I know pressing it makes it better…but you still have to successfully get it out of the package first. so annoying.

  7. Heather June 14, 2012 at 9:54 am #

    dude, the only tofu i can stomach texture-wise is silken and that’s when it’s in a pudding with lots of chocolate to mask it all. you’re a brave woman for even making anything with tofu as far as i’m concerned!

  8. Karly June 14, 2012 at 9:56 am #

    I’m not gonna lie. I’d prefer the Cymbalta to the tofu and I can promise you that opening a box of Cymbalta is easier than opening tofu. Also, a friend of a friend told me that deep fried depression meds are ah-may-zing.

  9. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar June 14, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    This sounds so freaking scrumptious! Yum!

  10. NanaBread (Jeanne) June 14, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    I used to dislike tofu. Wait, that’s not fair. The truth is, I just never “got” tofu. It’s a neutral texture with a neutral flavor. But all of that was before I learned that letting the flavors of the dish soak in to those little tofu sponges is a glorious thing. Now I love it. In fact, my beloved hot & sour soup would not be the same without it. I use the same method mentioned by dearabbyleigh. Works every time. That said, there are still days when I might prefer that Cymbalta & scotch.

  11. love2dine June 14, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    O M G! These look ridiculously awesome!!

  12. Meagan @ A Zesty Bite June 14, 2012 at 11:22 am #

    I’ve tried really really hard to like tofu but I can’t eat it!

  13. Averie @ Averie Cooks June 14, 2012 at 11:25 am #

    Someone teach me how to open a tofu box. = carefully with a paring knife just slice around the entire permiter of the plastic, invert and then plop the brick onto a cutting board. At that point you need to PRESS the tofu for a long time to get the water out. I have a whole tofu tutorials post…I could talk tofu science for hours :)

    • Bev Weidner June 14, 2012 at 11:52 am #

      See, I always buy the little cardboard boxes. Not the ones with the plastic flap thingy. I need to CHANGE MY WAYS. And I feel like if I were to press the tofu, it would flip me off and crumble and laugh at me. ;)

      • Erin July 25, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

        I think that’s where you went wrong…you did buy extra firm, but I think you bought silken extra firm! Which I’m sure you know at this point. Anyhoo, definitely look for the plastic packages that have a film on them, I generally find them in the produce section.

  14. Stephie @ Eat Your Heart Out June 14, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    I just cannot seem to get on the tofu bandwagon. Like…seriously. But then again I’ve never encountered this crispy tofu-ness you speak of, only the mushy kind. Not appealing. I think I will stick to meat over here….but I’m loving all that green up in your curry bid-ness

  15. Lauren - @Hippie Dog Company June 14, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    This dish is what is going to push me over the “I fear tofu” edge into actually trying it. I love curry and must try this. Thank you!

  16. DessertForTwo June 14, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    haha, I know what you mean! I have to admit that I usually toss the unsightly pieces! I deep fry that tofu into perfection everytime!

  17. Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts June 14, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    I am not huge on tofu, but this looks so good! I love coconut and green curry, I just want to drink it!

    • Bev Weidner June 14, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

      Shoooot look at that! I needed that.

  18. Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious June 14, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

    I absolutely loved your thai green curry so I’m sure I’ll love this just as much!

  19. Lara D June 14, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    I’ve also struggled with the sheer impossibility of opening tofu and it being recognizable later on. A delish substitute that I’ve used is paneer- it soaks up flavours just as well, is way easier to work with and has a great (fully formed) texture. Might be worth a shot?

    • Bev Weidner June 14, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

      THAT is a great idea. I love paneer! I have to be honest. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in my store, but now I’m going to be on the most annoying and insane mission ever to exist. Thank you!

  20. Stephanie June 14, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

    I also suggest pressing. You don’t need to do it for a super long time but it helps it stay together. I like to get those nice crispy edges too for when I use it in stir fry and it is really easy to pan fry with just a little oil if you press it then cube it. I also read if you give it a light dusting of corn starch you can get a nicer crust on it.

  21. Diana June 14, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

    Definitely always get extra-firm, unless you’re baking, or making some delicate soup or a scramble or something. I always use that steak knife method– then, the key trick, is to gently dump it on some paper towels and pat it as dry as possible. Yep, pan fry it in oil– or better yet, butter. I always fry it in half olive oil half butter, and season with some soy sauce and white pepper (Sriracha too, if I’m feeling funky). BAM

  22. Rachel June 14, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

    Hi, I really enjoy your blog and I was so excited when I saw the title of this post and I can totally relate to your frustrations. I just got a TofuXpress http://www.tofuxpress.com/ for my birthday and it has been life changing! Haha seriously I was going through entire rolls of paper towels trying to fully drain my tofu… I have so many times had the exact same thought of how in the world do restaurants get their tofu SO perfectly golden and crispy?!? So after spending a lot of time experimenting, here is what I would suggest:
    1. buy extra firm tofu (in plastic containers) and press for at least 30 minutes (longer is okay but even 30 mins helps a ton)
    2. slice into rectangles, sticks, or cubes (bigger shapes stay together a little better and are easier to flip) and pat dry with a paper towel
    3. heat a non-stick pan to medium-high and put the tofu right into the DRY pan and cook about 10 minutes on each side until golden!
    This is the greatest way to get it crispy and golden and delicious that I have found! The tofu doesn’t stick to the pan and I have found that using oil in the pan just makes the tofu wet and soggy again and it doesn’t ever get crispy. For this recipe, I would cook the tofu as above and then add it to the curry sauce and veggies at the end and give a few minutes to warm/absorb flavor. Can’t wait to try!

    • Bev Weidner June 14, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

      Um, you have just made my entire life. THANK YOU.

  23. Jamie @ Thrifty Veggie Mama June 15, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    Yeah, the tofu in the plastic containers that needs to be refrigerated is firmer than the cardboard box type. The trick to getting it to crisp in the pan is definitely hot oil. The restaurants definitely deep fry it and probably buy it already cubed!

    I am in love with the tofu from Pei Wei and really want to find a way to recreate that!

    This dish still looks fantastic :)

  24. Vita @ Juicer Depot June 15, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    I hope the glass of wine in the picture helped you feel better from all that tofu stress. Lol! Looks like Rachel has a good remedy to make tofu crispy that I am going to try.

  25. Christa Kelso June 15, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

    I made Grilled Tandori Tofu the other night for dinner and my husband loved it. Shocking- because its so healthy! I’m gonna have to make this recipe this week and see how he likes it- i know I’ll LOVE IT!
    Just found your blog & so excited I did. Can’t wait to browse around :)
    -Mini Baker
    http://www.minibaker.com

  26. brandi June 15, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    yup. THIS is why i don’t make tofu at home anymore. it never turns out how I want it, which is apparently only deep fried.

    does that take out the healthy? i don’t think so.

  27. Rachel @ Baked by Rachel June 15, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

    I think if tofu were deep fried I’d be willing to eat it lol. My mom tried cooking it many times for my brother after he went vegan (now vegetarian) and it was never a pretty sight!

  28. Heather Christo June 16, 2012 at 9:19 am #

    I was all ready to say that the only way I have ever gotten tofu crispy was by full plunge deep fat frying- but thank you to Rachel above!

    That curry sauce looks so dang good. I just love curry Bev- thanks!

  29. Kari@Loaves and Dishes June 16, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    I love tofu, it’s the chameon of the culinary world. I pan fry my tofu, and use a splatter cover over the skillet(a great investment), ’cause it will splatter all over. There is also precooked tofu in the produce department that has a meatier texture, for those who don’t like the jiggliness(?) of tofu. Really like that you add arugula!

  30. Natalie @ Cooking for My Kids June 20, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

    Well, now you have made it my mission to open a tofu box and cook a perfectly presented tofu meal.

    Oh, and, yes, this is me catching up on you before my bedtime. :)

  31. Jeanine June 22, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

    The kind in the box that you’re using, is silken tofu, not regular tofu… silken is used mostly for smoothies, vegan puddings and pie fillings, etc. So even though it says extra firm, it’s not the same as the extra firm kind that is in the refrigerated section that’s packed in water… That’ll change your tofu life, for sure :)

    Baking tofu is my favorite method to make it firm and golden…I slice it into planks, lay it on towels, pat out some of the moisture. Salt it (like how the salt brings out the moisture in eggplant), let it sit for a couple of minutes. And then cube it, drizzle with olive oil (and probably more salt, garlic, whatever spices you want)… bake it in the oven for 20-25 minutes. It dries out some so I find that you don’t need to press it ahead of time. When it’s done, toss it into your curry or stir fry skillet toward the end.

    This green curry with the arugula looks delicious! Love arugula…

    • Bev Weidner June 22, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

      Okaaaaay, SEE, thank you! I get it now – the SILKEN vs. regular. You’ve opened mine eyes. I don’t think “mine” is right here, but who cares? Thank you!

  32. Grace July 15, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

    Hi, To get little cubes try the extra-firm tofu in the bigger boxes with lots of water.
    That tofu will slice and not just crumble up all mushy.
    :-)

  33. Angela January 4, 2013 at 8:31 pm #

    This was delicious on a cold winter’s night. Thanks for sharing!

  34. Kim January 8, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

    I freeze my tofu & then defrost it before cutting & pan frying it. It makes the texture a lot easier to slice through to make those perfect little cubes for frying. : ) Can’t wait to try this recipe!

  35. Anne January 9, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

    I know one other commenter mentioned this, but it is clear from the picture you are using silken tofu, not regular tofu. Use regular tofu, preferably organic and non-GMO. Wildwood makes great tofu. Regular tofu does not come in a box typically, but silken does. Don’t let the “extra firm” label make you think it is regular tofu. There is such a thing as extra firm silken tofu but it’s still silken. Frying regular tofu is easy. Try a marinade of equal parts mirin and cornstarch first. Please keep making recipes with tofu. I eat plant based and there are wonderful things to be made with tofu. It is an acquired taste (as is quinoa), but once you get the taste for it you’ll love it. I plan to make this recipe tomorrow night.

  36. Tara June 2, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

    Hi Bev,

    I’m new to discovering your blog. It’s pretty clear that you should keep the “self-proclaimed” bit in your title, “self-proclaimed foodie.” You lack pretty basic tofu knowledge, but it’s good you’re starting somewhere. Learn from your readers. Good luck!

  37. Tawni July 13, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    I really loved this dish! I did make a few alterations, based on what I had in my fridge/pantry, but the flavor was all yours and it is definitely going into my repertoire! I used baby kale instead of arugula and I used quinoa instead of brown rice. Such a delicious dish!! Thanks Bev…keep on cookin’! (I soaked up the water from the tofu and kept squeezing it {gently} while wrapped in paper towels, and it didn’t fall apart)

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