team, have i mentioned lately that i’m super grateful for you? each one of you. the readers, the regulars, the cooks, the first-time readers, the commenters, the pinners, the tell-your-friends-and-coworkers-ers, the lurkers, the non-cooks-but-still-read-anyways-ers. (did i miss anyone??) all of you.
i thought today was especially apropos to mention this since i am posting my 100th recipe. i know, right?! how did that happen?? and what are milestones for, if not reflection. so, if you’ll indulge me briefly:
frequently recipes don’t work perfectly the first time i try them. sometimes they don’t work the second time. occasionally they don’t even work the third time (and then i usually throw the idea the heck out because ain’t nobody got time to keep banging their head on the wall – or oven door, as it were). when they don’t work though, and i’m starting to get frustrated, i remind myself about you – my internet team.
i remind myself that there *is* actually a purpose to what i’m doing, beyond just trying to dirty every dish we have. you’ve told me how you’ve made my recipes for dinner, how you thought the story i wrote was funny, how you like looking at the pretty pictures. in short, that what i’m doing matters and adds value to your day. and that means everything to me. so THANK YOU for showing up here and supporting me, each in your own ways.
so, even though i don’t particularly like the traditional thanksgiving menu (i know, i’m sorry. here’s a peace offering and keep your eyes out over the next few weeks for a few more not-quite-traditional thanksgiving-ish recipes…*), i do appreciate the gratitude mindset that pops up every year around this time as the holiday draws near.
this year, as i reflect on what i’m grateful for, you, my internet team, are high up on that list. and not just because you give me an excuse to make the same peanut red curry twice in one week…
right! the peanut red curry (also known as The Reason You Came Here in the First Place). umm, it’s really good. secretly, we didn’t even need an excuse to make it twice in one week and certainly nobody was complaining about the repetition. in fact, there was actually a bit of, “oh, is that the last of the leftovers?” going on (sorry dear!).
besides the fact that it tastes great, it also benefits from being a meal that you can prep as much or as little in advance as you want. going start to finish (including making the peanut red curry sauce) takes just under an hour and a half. BUT! but, you can make the sauce, and/or prep the veggies, or even make the whole recipe in advance (see above re: fighting over the leftovers. both times.). so you can totally make the recipe work around your schedule.
and speaking of flexible, you can basically put whatever you want in here. i suggested carrots, green beans, onions, red peppers, and tofu because that’s what i like but toss in whatever you like (just keep roughly the same overall quantity). chicken or shrimp would certainly work here, as would a number of other veggies. as always, you do you. and i’ll keep being grateful that that includes hanging out here with me.
*also, as much as i don’t like thanksgiving food, i lovelovelove christmas food! well, all the ginger(bread) and peppermint parts anyway (but not together; that’d be gross). so don’t worry, i have pleeenty of christmas-y recipes coming your way.
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- half of a large jalapeño, minced (seeded if you want it to be milder)
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons thai red curry paste
- 90 g. (1/3 cup / 3 1/8 oz.) unsweetened peanut butter
- 13.5 oz. (399 ml / ~1 ½ cups) unsweetened reduced fat coconut milk (shake before opening the can)
- 3 – 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1 – 2 limes)
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce, see notes
- 1 cup brown basmati rice (or your favorite rice)
- 425 g. (15 oz.) extra firm tofu (or your favorite protein)
- 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- 2 medium/large (170 g. / 6 oz. total) carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
- 265 g. (9 3/8 oz. / large handful or two) green beans, ends trimmed and cut in half or thirds (if they’re long)
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (for serving)
- 2 scallions, cut into thin slices (for serving)
- a few lime wedges (for serving)
- cook rice according to package directions.
- slice the tofu in half from long edge to long edge so that you have 2 flat planks, like oversized decks of cards. to press out excess water: place a few layers of paper towel on a large plate or cutting board, spread the tofu out in a single layer, put a few more layers of paper towel, then weigh the tofu down with a heavy pan or a cutting board with a few cans on top. let the tofu press while you prep the sauce and chop the vegetables.
- in a medium saucepan, heat the 2 teaspoons of oil over medium heat. when hot, add the jalapeño, shallot, and garlic. stir constantly and cook for about one minute, so the aromatics soften but don’t brown too much (the garlic will taste bitter).
- add the red curry paste and stir for one more minute. add the peanut butter and stir the lump around as best you can for a few seconds, then slowly whisk in about 2/3 of the can of coconut milk. depending on the consistency you prefer, either keep the sauce as is or add in more of the coconut milk (you can also add it later, if the sauce thickens while you’re preparing everything else). simmer the sauce for 2 minutes.
- remove the pan from heat and whisk in the lime juice and fish sauce. set the peanut red curry sauce aside.
- in a large (nonstick, if you have it) skillet, ideally with high sides, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil over medium heat. when hot, add the carrots and let them cook for 2.5 minutes, stirring occasionally. add the green beans to the carrots and let both cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. add the onion and red pepper and let everything sauté for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- while the vegetables are sautéing, heat another large (nonstick) skillet over medium heat with the other two teaspoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the peanut red curry sauce. cut the tofu into 1” (2.5 cm) cubes. add the tofu to the skillet (carefully – it will splatter!) and use a spatula to turn the tofu cubes over gently so that all sides get covered in oil/sauce. sauté for about 15 minutes total, gently turning cubes over occasionally so that different sides of the cubes can turn golden brown. don’t turn the tofu too often as overhandling it will lead to mush.
- once the tofu and vegetables are each done, add the tofu to the skillet with the vegetables, along with the peanut red curry sauce. stir gently to combine and coat everything with sauce (add more of the coconut milk, if you want a thinner sauce). heat through for a few minutes, stirring occasionally so the bottom doesn’t burn.
- serve the peanut red curry over the rice, topping with fresh cilantro, scallions, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. invite me over and we’ll enjoy together!
as written (and depending on your jalapeño), i would describe this recipe as mild-moderately spicy. if you’re spice averse, leave out the jalapeño as the thai red curry paste has a tiny kick (but mostly lots of flavor, so definitely don’t leave that out!). if you like spicier food, use the whole jalapeño or even a serrano chili instead.
fish sauce can usually be found in the asian or international aisle of the grocery store. i recommend getting a small bottle, if there are choices, as most recipes don’t call for large quantities at once. and don’t worry, your bottle hasn’t gone bad; it always smells that way (but makes food taste really good!).
peanut red curry sauce adapted from red curry-peanut sauce in food and wine.