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Classic Thai Red Curry with Tofu and Mushrooms

I’m lucky enough to live in a city where there are several amazing vegan-friendly Thai restaurants; green curries, yellow curries, red curries, tom yum soup, pad see ew, pad Thai, and of course Thai iced tea with coconut milk. Amazing vegan Thai food is never more than a few blocks away.

Naturally, I’ve been inspired to start exploring Thai cooking at home lately, and I thought I’d share my recipe for a classic Thai curry: a coconut-based red curry with plenty of veggies and tofu. It’s super easy to make (like 25 minutes from start to finish) and the flavors are incredibly authentic.

Now, the biggest component of a Thai curry is the curry paste, which gives the dish its distinctive flavor and color. Normally I would have you hunt down kaffir limes and lemongrass and have you grind out the paste yourself in a mortar and pestle… but not today. As I was searching through the grocery store for all these crazy ingredients with the intention of making my own paste, I found this stuff:

RedCurryPaste

Surprisingly, it’s made with nothing a handful of real ingredients, it’s available pretty much everywhere, costs 3 bucks, and tastes almost as good as homemade curry paste. As much as I hate the principle of using pre-made foods in jars, this is a worthwhile exception… unless you actually enjoy spending 4 hours looking for kaffir limes, this Thai Kitchen curry paste is perfect.

RedCurry

Makes 3-4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 12 oz light coconut milk
  • 1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 12 oz extra firm tofu
  • 1-2 thai chilis
  • 1 lime (juice + zest)
  • 8 basil leaves
  • Brown basmati rice, for serving

Step One

Finely mince the onion, garlic, and fresh ginger. Add these to a large skillet over medium heat with a splash of water and allow to soften for about 5 minutes, until the onions turn slightly translucent.

Step Two

Next, add in a sliced red bell pepper and sliced crimini mushrooms along with about 3 tablespoons of the infamous red curry paste and stir until the paste is evenly coating the veggies.

Meanwhile, you should probably start cooking some rice unless you already have leftovers.

Step Three

Add in the coconut milk and soy sauce. A classic thai curry would have fish sauce, but since that isn’t quite going to cut it in our vegan version, soy sauce is an excellent substitute. Stir for a minute or two until the paste has dissolved into the liquid and everything is looking beautiful.

RedCurryPan

Step Four

Cut the extra firm tofu into fairly large cubes and use a paper towel to squeeze out some excess water. Toss these into the pan along with the juice and zest of 1 lime and, if you’d like extra heat, 1-2 minced red thai* chilis.

* If the thai chili plant in your garden is languishing as badly as mine and doesn’t actually have any chilis yet, feel free to substitute Anaheim, jalapeño, or anything else you have on hand.

thaichili

Step Five

Finally, allow this to simmer uncovered for at least 15 minutes, until the curry reduces and becomes slightly thicker, then add in a few sliced fresh basil leaves and cook for just another minute or so. At this point, give it a taste and add some salt or more curry paste if needed. When it’s perfect, ladle over fresh brown rice and enjoy.

46 Comments

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  1. I LOVE Thai curry and I agree with you about the labor involved in homemade. Plus I would have to travel too far to get the ingredients and pay a premium price that is out of my budget anyway. Thanks for this recipe, it looks very doable and (importantly) affordable. YUM!

  2. Love making Thai food at home! I actually bought a kaffir lime tree online, just so I could have the leaves ready for making my own curry paste and tom yum soup.

    Sadly, my Thai basil looks about as happy as yours…not even any flowers yet!

    • Haha, growing your own kaffir lime tree? That’s some serious dedication.

      Ah, we just have to be patient. I’m sure in 2 months I’ll have more thai chilis than I could eat in the next 5 years 🙂

      • It was a bit of a splurge having one sent to me, but now I’m glad I did. I love just picking the leaves off and smelling Thailand.

        And that is very true. We’ll just have to come up with some other recipes that use Thai chilis!

  3. I want to make Thai curry dish, but first I need a bit more information. Are there known levels of heat in the red, green and yellow curry paste?

    Thanks so much.

  4. Andrew, this sounds delicious! I’m going to get brave and give it a try! (I say brave bc I’m not a fan of spicy food)

    • Very cool, Catherine! Honestly, I didn’t find the chili paste to be very hot at all. It’s more about the fresh chilis that you add into the dish that will determine the heat level, so feel free to omit those if you aren’t a fan of the spiciness.

  5. This looks soo delicious! Sharing this recipe link with a vegetarian friend♥ She is gonna love this cuz she is a vegetarian, loves tofu and curry! Thanks!

  6. Oddly, the Thai Kitchen red curry paste sold here in Switzerland is not vegan (it contains fish sauce). I was about to warn you about this, but first I looked up their US website and saw that over there it IS vegan. Now I feel cheated! A word of warning to readers abroad though; familiar-looking products are not always the same everywhere.

    • Oh bummer! Yes the one here actually says “vegan” on the front and doesn’t have fish sauce. That’s disappointing. I guess you’ll have to hunt down those kaffir limes and make your own… 🙂

  7. I make this exact dish that I came up with on my own, only addition is 2 TBS coconut sugar. The sweetness makes everything pop.

    • Ooh, I actually think a little sweetness could go a long way in this curry. That’s a great idea and I’ll try it next time I make this one. Thanks for the suggestion!

  8. I made this to have with some friends tonight and everyone enjoyed it! I added some snow peas, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and a little coconut sugar – so colourful and tasty. Thanks for the recipe!

  9. I made this one tonight, except mine was with mushrooms, eggplant, green beans and carrot strands, and served over rice noodles. Yum! It ended up extra spicy since I used a red jalapeño pepper that was extremely hot! Awesome recipe, as usual! 😀

  10. Wow!!! Make this today!!! I loved it. I made one substitution since I did not have a hot pepper…1 tsp of sriracha did the trick. I will definitely be making this again. Thanks, Andrew.

  11. Made this last night and had the leftovers for lunch today! Great flavor and so easy to make! We will definitely be adding this to the regular rotation of 1IC recipes in our kitchen!

    A question – the mushrooms gave off their juice while the curry was simmering and it was a tad watery. Would you recommend sauteeing those with the onions so that the juice can reduce or is that liquid needed in the end?

  12. hi andrew! i made this for my lunches at work all week so i doubled it but it was SO great. i cannot rave about it enough. i put it over jasmine rice. i didnt get sick of it at all after 5 days either and it stored super well. i cant wait to make it again! thank you!

  13. I just made this Thai soup and you blow my mind. Knock my socks off craziness. Yesterday I had the mushroom soup and my husband thinks the food I am serving him is from a restaurant.
    I just had to tell you that on behalf of my whole family and myself…
    We love you.
    Thank you for your deliciousness.
    Xoxox

  14. I am not usually a big fan of tofu but that recipe was excellent. I didn’t have red curry paste but I had the green. Delicious. I used firm organic tofu and added snow peas. Bonus: there is leftover for tomorrow’s lunch! 😉

  15. I followed your recipe but with a different brand of red curry paste (which I used earlier but failed). It turned out to be the best red curry on par with restaurant made. Thanks a bunch for your awesome recipe.

  16. This was amazing! I’ll be making again.

    I left out a couple of ingredients that I did not have on hand — mushrooms, chilis, and basil leaves — but it was still excellent!

  17. I made this tonight and it was fantastic, especially since I got to use up some extra creminis I had sitting in my fridge. I changed a few things: pan-fried the tofu first and added bean sprouts, and since I didn’t have chilis I used some sriracha to pump the spice a bit. I’m soooo looking forward to leftovers. Great recipe; I’ll use it again!

  18. This is the best tofu thai red curry I have had, including restaurant ones !
    I added my own twist by adding a tbsp of crunchy peanut butter towards the end ,which deepened the flavour even further.

  19. Oh My Goodness!!!
    I made this for dinner last night – so AMAZING!!!

    Thank you for your recipe – it’s now a favourite in our home!

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