I made a curry tonight, and was asked to share my recipe. I was a little reluctant, because this is a really easy recipe, and explaining it will erase my mystique as a cook. But I’m a scientist, not a chef, and we believe in exposing all the mysteries, dammit. So here it is. Bonus: it’s vegan!
Take some extra firm tofu and let it rest under a weight for a while, until it’s extra firmerer.
You’re going to need a small pot. Put a cup of coconut milk in it, and then a couple of healthy dollops of peanut butter, and a variable amount of red curry paste. You get to control the final heat here: add a spoonful or two if you you like it mild, throw in half a tub of the stuff if you want to set the world on fire. Let it simmer until all the chunky stuff melts and you’ve got a nice brownish sauce with rivers of red like blood threading through it.
Now rescue your tofu from the crushing weight and cube it. Slice it into small bits, about the diameter of the tip of your little finger. Use a sharp knife, and maybe you’ll get a finger tip as a standard — you’ll only get to do that twice, so learn fast. Heat up some olive oil in a pan, and fry the tofu cubes up for a while, until they’re getting a toasty brown around the edges. This gives ’em a little more texture. Tofu needs it.
Sad confession. I’d like to add some of those tasty little red dried chilis at this point, and simmer them in the oil with the tofu, but I haven’t yet found any in Morris, so I usually don’t. I should check the Mexican grocery next time.
When the tofu looks good, throw them into the peanut butter/coconut milk/curry paste sauce. Simmer a while. They’ll absorb the flavor and get nutty-spicy.
Get a big white onion and chop it fine. Go ahead and let your tears spatter into it to add a personal touch. Saute in your cooking pot in some olive oil for 5 minutes or so, and then add a healthy dose of grated garlic, like a couple of cloves worth. Add some grated ginger, a bit more than the amount of garlic you added, and swirl it around in the hot oil and onions. Add peanuts. How many peanuts do you like? I throw in a couple of handfuls. Saute some more.
Time to add some spices. If you’re as lazy as I am, just get that yellow curry powder and toss in a couple of big spoonfuls. OK, add another spoonful. Maybe more. To taste. If you don’t have the curry powder, add turmeric and cumin and a bit of ground coriander. Swirl it around until everything is coated and hot, and dump in your coconut milk plus pepper plus peanut butter and tofu. You should get a nice blast of delicious steam in your face.
Really, that might be the best part of cooking this stuff, that moment when you get to breathe in the spices. Sinuses now all clear.
OK, now add a splash of soy sauce, and a couple of splashes of rice vinegar. If you think it’s not robust enough, spritz in some sriracha sauce to invigorate it.
Now we might diverge a bit: I use an instant pot pressure cooker. I just need to zap it at high pressure for 3 minutes or so to turn it into liquid gold. If you’re using a slow cooker, you might need to let it cook for an hour or more. Do the experiment! Do frequent tastings to see how it’s coming along!
Somewhere in here get your rice cooking. I like jasmine rice with this curry.
Final step: add pineapple chunks and simmer for a few minutes. I just use a whole large can of the stuff, but if you want more sweetness, add more (I think Mary wants me to add a couple of pineapples worth). Put it on rice and consume.
Curries are surprisingly easy to make — it’s all in the spices, and they’re easy to come by. I also have a red curry I make with lentils and potatoes, but I’m not telling because I have to keep some secrets.