I spoke at a blogging conference a few weeks ago (BlogStock – conference meets festival, it was fun! I was speaking in a tipi!). There was a free Thai buffet before the event started (I know, a free Thai buffet, I was in heaven), and one of the sauces up for grabs was an amazing red Thai curry sauce.
It wasn’t any old Thai curry sauce though, it had a slight peanutty flavour as well, kind of a cross between a red Thai curry sauce and a satay sauce. So of course, I set about trying to recreate it at home.
And here it is – red Thai satay tofu! It’s a rich and luscious sauce that you can use to drench anything you like. I went for tofu and veggies, and served everything up on a bed of roses… I mean noodles. A bed of noodles.
The sauce is made from red Thai curry paste, peanut butter, and some actual peanuts for a nice crunch. I used veggie stock to make it nice and saucy – you could use coconut milk instead, which is more commonly used with Thai curry, but I wanted to keep it feeling a bit lighter, so I resisted.
I don’t cook with tofu very often, but I do enjoy it. I’ve had my fair share of tofu fails – it can sometimes be a bit squidgy and tasteless, but if you make the effort, it’s not hard to make it taste yummy.
The trick is to not rush it. If you grab a block of tofu straight out of the packet, and serve it up without giving it a proper go in a frying pan, it’s probably not going to be too good (some people probably like it like this, I’m not one of them).
But there are a few things you can do to make your tofu tastier. The first is to press any excess liquid out of it before cooking. If you don’t have a fancy tofu press, you can just sandwich the slices of tofu between a couple of tea towels, and press them down with something heavy to squeeze out the liquid (place a baking tray across the top before weighing it down, to help spread the weight out evenly). It’s best if you can leave it like this for a good while, but even just ten minutes makes a difference.
It’s also important to cook the tofu in a frying pan on its own for a while before adding anything else to the pan, to give it a chance to crisp up. Overcrowding the pan doesn’t help anything – just add the tofu to a bit of hot oil, and leave it for a while until it’s golden brown. It’s hard to resist stirring it every thirty seconds, but don’t – just let it do its thing and stop interfering.
Once your tofu is nice and crispy, then you can add your veggies and that amazing sauce. Top it all with some fresh coriander and some extra peanuts if you like a bit of crunch.
- 3 tbsp peanuts
- 2 tbsp peanut butter
- 2 tbsp vegetarian red Thai curry paste
- 50 ml vegetable stock or water (~ 1/4 cup)
- Black pepper
- 200 g firm tofu, cut into 2cm dice (~ 1 1/2 cups diced)
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 spring onions, sliced
- 1 small mild red chilli, finely chopped (optional)
- 200 g stir fry-style vegetables (~ 2 1/2 cups) - I used tenderstem broccoli, baby corn and sugarsnap peas
- 200 ml vegetable stock (~ 3/4 cup)
- Fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped, to serve
Add the peanuts, peanut butter, and red Thai curry paste to a food processor, and blitz until the mixture reaches your desired consistency. Add the vegetable stock or water, along with some black pepper, and blitz again to combine. Set aside.
To make the red Thai satay tofu, start by pressing the tofu to remove any excess liquid. If you don't have a tofu press, place the sliced or diced tofu between two clean tea towels, lay a baking tray on top, and then add some heavy objects. Leave for at least ten minutes, preferably longer.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan, and add the diced tofu. Cook over a medium-high heat for several minutes each side, until golden brown all over - don't stir it too often.
When the tofu is golden, add the garlic, spring onions, mild red chilli (if using), and vegetables - I used tenderstem broccoli, baby corn, and sugarsnap peas. Cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes, until al dente.
Add the red Thai satay paste, along with 200ml of additional veggie stock or water, and mix to combine. Simmer for a few minutes until cooked to your liking.
Serve with rice or noodles if desired, topped with fresh coriander.
Note: nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose.