Vegan Red Curry: Tofu, Red Pepper, and Sweet Potato

Lately, my family has been teasing me to turn in my "ethnic" card. I love vegetables and don't pine for meat the way they do. Growing up, there were three components to every meal: 1) rice or small noodles with red beans; 2) a dead animal; and 3) a salad with olive oil and vinegar for dressing. Dinner was on lock.

As I got older, I started to say foreign words, like sushi and gluten. An entire meal could be a spruced up salad. Scandalous, right? Don't get me wrong- I love my mom's cooking and it was very healthy. Nothing was fried (minus octopus and some desserts) and it was all home-made. We cook frequently, but I will never be able to match what mom used to do every single day.

This vegan red curry dish is great for those with limited time and are health conscious. It's from Men's Health Magazine but with a lot of modifications. For starters, the steak is substituted with semi-firm tofu, one of those weird things my family doesn't believe in. There is additional seasoning, vegetables, and peanuts! Without the spices, we found the red curry terribly bland. The heat is cranked up with complimentary spices. I love the soft, smooth texture of the sweet potatoes (chop them small or else it will take forever to tenderize) with the subtle crunch of the red pepper.

The curry pictured above is from the next day and a bit thicker. The longer you cook the coconut milk, the more concentrated it becomes. If you want it thinner, hold off on adding it until the last 10 minutes of cooking. We like it thick! 

Serve with some fluffy brown rice instead of plain jasmine.

Vegan Red Curry: Tofu, Red Pepper, and Sweet Potato
adapted from Men's Health Magazine
4 large servings

1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 large shallot
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed (about the size of a sugar cube)
1/2-1 red pepper, sliced
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 1/2 tablespoons red curry paste, divided
1 package (14 ounce) semi-firm tofu, drained and crumbled
*1 tablespoon fish oil (optional for non-vegans)
1 can (13.5 ounce) coconut milk (lite or regular)
1 tablespoon minced garlic paste
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed ginger
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 kaffir leaves (optional)
1 tablespoon ground cilantro or fresh chopped cilantro to garnish
Juice of 1/2 a lime

1/4 cup unsalted, toasted peanuts (crushed if so desired in a food processor)

Marinate the tofu in a medium bowl with the 1/2 tablespoon red curry paste, coconut milk, lime zest, and fish oil. Add cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper, and ginger. Set aside and marinate for about 10 minutes.

Heat a large skillet with peanut oil. Add shallots and ginger; let it cook till fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon red curry paste for about 30 seconds. Add tofu mixture.  Heat for about 2 minutes.

Add the chopped sweet potatoes, sliced red pepper, kaffir leaves (optional), and garlic paste. Bring mix to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes, stirring on occasion. Add the black pepper and cilantro. Let it go for another 5 minutes. Add in lime juice and give it a good stirring!

Serve with toasted peanuts on top and some fluffy brown rice! Yay for vitamins!