Red Thai Tofu, Aubergine and Egg Curry

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Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been cooking loads of Indian food – recipe testing mainly. I  had been sent a fabulous hamper from Natco foods as part of the Curry4Change competition that I’m taking part in –  details on this will follow in June as YOU too can get involved.

I am now craving food from a different region and a rather delicious vegetarian Thai dish caught my attention recently, cooked by John Torode as part of one of the invention tests in the 2014 Masterchef series. I find the series completely addictive and a pleasure to watch. The invention test in particular is always rather exciting as it really demonstrates how much flair and knowledge of cooking the contestant really has. Basically the contestants get two boxes to chose from, one savoury and the other sweet – no prizes for guessing which I would always choose! After electing a box they have to create a dish using some of the ingredients within the box as well as a few staple ingredients that they are all given. Before the contestants dive in John has a go at choosing one of the boxes (away from the contestants), typically he too always chooses the savoury box. This time he created a red Thai aubergine, tofu, egg curry, which I thought looked delicious, spicy and relatively light – a dish that was beckoning me to cook.

Here is my version of the dish inspired from the John Tororde’s creation. I have a feeling that John may have included red peppers in his paste but I opted to not put them in – I leave it to you to decide.

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Red Thai Tofu, Aubergine and Egg Curry

The proportions below will allow you to cook this dish a few times – freeze the paste left over.

To make the paste

5cm fresh galangal

5cm fresh ginger

3 cloves of garlic

13 small shallots (half that if they are larger in size)

3 small piece kaffir lime peel

4 large dried red chilli, soak for 10 mins in warm water to soften

2 fresh small red chillies

2 lemongrass sticks

1 tsp shrimp paste

1. If you have a gas hob, simply place all the ingredients, aside for the shrimp paste, on a rack and place over the flame so that the ingredients char slightly. This will give the paste a lovely smokey flavour. I did exactly the same thing when I was in Vietnam and made Pho – see here.

2. If you do not have a gas hob, simply place them into a pan (do not add oil) and let them heat and char this way.

3. Once the ingredients have charred and cooled, place into a blender and add the shrimp paste. Blend until you can get it as smooth as you can.

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To make the curry itself

Serves 4

5 tbsp vegetable oil

800g firm tofu, cut into 3 cm cubes

4 tsp homemade curry paste

300g aubergine – if using baby aubergines cut into quarters, otherwise cut into 7x2cm matchsticks

400ml creamy coconut milk (1 tin)

4 eggs

1 tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp salt

3 pak choi

100ml water

1/2 lime, juice only

1. Firstly make sure the tofu is completely dry as it will then fry a lot better. I usually take the tofu out its packet a couple of hours before using and then place on kitchen roll so that it soaks up all the excess water.

2. Using a non-stick pan place a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil into the pan and when it is hot carefully add the tofu cubes. Fry on a low heat so that the tofu bronzes delicately. This should not take much more than 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile on a low heat, in a wok or karahi, add a couple more tablespoons of vegetable oil and add the thai paste. Stir around in the oil and add the aubergine and coat in the paste. You may find you need to add another tablespoon of oil at this stage as the aubergines do need quite a bit to cook.

4. As the aubergines begin to soften add the creamy coconut milk and the eggs in their shells. They will become hard boiled from cooking gently in the coconut milk.

5. Add the caste sugar and salt to taste.

6. Add the lime juice and then five minutes before serving add the pak choi and a little extra water. Remove the shells from the eggs and cut in half.

7. Serve in a bowl with a small bowl of rice on the side. John added roasted sesame seeds in his, which is a nice touch.

NB: My local Thai grocers said that they do not use fresh chillies in their red thai paste, but I decided to add a couple of help with the heat and colour.

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PS: I realise I’ve been cooking rather a lot of  dishes that include aubergine/eggplant lately. I do apologise if you can’t stand the vegetable. I don’t actively come up with recipes that include it but realise this is the third recipe that includes aubergines that I’ve cooked in the last month or so.  I promise there will be no aubergines for a while as you are probably being polite and are actually really sick of them ;o).


Roasted Harlequin Squash with Tofu, Kale and Coriander in a Miso-Curry Paste

I am a big advocate of eating a few meals a week that are vegetarian. In the past I think the general public felt rather limited on what vegetarian meals to cook that were satisfyingly tasty. Times have changed however and today a whole universe into vegetarian cooking has developed and become mainstream. There are countless possibilities of what to cook and a wonderful array of cook books and blog posts giving us ideas of new food combinations to try out.

A fabulous success story in the blogging world is the vegetarian food blogger Heidi Swanson from San Francisco, who writes 101cookbooks.com and already has a few cookbooks to her name. I managed to pick up her latest book Super Natural Cooking in Vancouver last year when I was visiting my sister. Her photos always impress me and I like the way they have a matt finish in her book.  Understandably she cooks with a wide range of lentils, beans and grains and has some excellent ideas of pairing them with various vegetables and sauces.

This recipe is very seasonal and is perfect for Autumn time as it requires you buying squash. Heidi uses ‘delicata squash’  for it’s buttery flavour and wonderful green stripes, adding a vibrancy to the dish. Sadly I could not find any at Pimlico farmers market so bought a harlequin squash instead, which worked equally well. Basically any squash that you don’t have to peel (which is actually quite a large number) will work.

I also used roseval potatoes as I adore their red skin and yellow flesh, but any other small variety of potato will work – Heidi uses new!

Finally the only other change I made to Heidi’s original recipe is that I used more tofu as I wanted to use up a whole packet.

The dish is perfect for a weeknight meal as it is very easy to prepare and takes no time to  actually cook. I also love the fact that it requires no peeling of the squash – result !

Miso-Curry Harlequin Squash

Adapted from Heidi Swanson’s book ‘Super Natural Every Day’

Serves 4

350g harlequin squash (or delicata or any that require no peeling)

60 ml extra virgin olive oil

70g sweet white miso paste (I buy mine from Sainsbury)

1 tbsp red Thai curry paste

349g firm tofu (or whole packet equivalent), cut into small cubes

4 medium Roseval potatoes, unpeeled and cut into chunks

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

45g chopped kale, tough stems removed

45g seeds (pine nuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds), toasted

30g chopped coriander/cilantro

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade.

2. Carefully cut the harlequin squash into 1cm thick half moons.

3. In a bowl whisk together the oil, red thai curry paste and sweet miso paste.

4. Gently fold the squash, potatoes and tofu into 80ml of the miso-curry paste using your hands, making sure that you do not break up the tofu. Spread out the ingredients onto a baking sheet and place in the centre of the oven for 25-30 minutes. Toss a couple of times during cooking once the ingredients begin to bronze.

5. With the remaining miso-curry paste whisk in the lemon juice and then stir in the kale (uncooked!).

6. In a heavy skillet gently toast the seeds and nuts over a medium heat until they have bronzed and become fragrant. This will only take a couple of minutes. Do not leave them as they will burn.

7. When the squash, potatoes and tofu are cooked, gently toss all the ingredients together including the nuts and seeds, coriander/cilantro and kale. Serve hot onto warm plates.

The potatoes, squash and tofu coated in the miso-curry paste

Ready to eat – once I’ve got the perfect shot!