Coconut Tofu Curry

This tofu curry recipe is a family favorite! Coconut milk and red curry paste pack a punch in this fast and healthy dinner idea.

Tofu curry

Here’s a dinner that takes just 30 minutes and results in so much flavor…you’ll put it on your regular rotation immediately. Try this Tofu Curry recipe! The brilliant red broth is flavored with coconut milk and red curry paste, with the zing of lime and a hint of spicy sweetness. The Thai-style flavors are the perfect way to introduce tofu to those wary of it. And if you’re already a lover (like us!), you’ll appreciate this delightfully colorful way to serve it. Here’s what to know!

What’s a curry, anyway?

The word “curry” is actually a Western invention to poorly describe the nuance of what colonizers observed in foreign cuisines (see Bon Appetit). Today, the word is used to describe a dish with a spiced sauce and meat or vegetables, often eaten with rice or flatbread like naan. “Curry” is made in many countries, including India, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and England.

In this recipe, we honor the flavor traditions of a Thai-style red curry. After traveling in Southeast Asia and experiencing the flavors of the region, we were impressed by the way Southeast Asian curries capture a wide rainbow of flavors. Coconut milk, ginger, garlic, galangal, lemongrass, chili peppers, sugar, and lime are traditional in Thai and Cambodian curry. Together these flavors make an irresistibly tasty broth! While we don’t have Thai or Cambodian heritage, but this tofu curry recipe honors some of the flavor combinations typical in recipes of that region.

Tofu coconut curry

Ingredients in this tofu curry recipe

This tofu curry recipe is modeled after a Southeast Asian red curry, using red curry paste and coconut milk. It’s also packed with veggies that are typical of this style of curry: that happen to pack a big nutritional punch, too. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Tofu: look for firm or extra firm for this recipe
  • Yellow onion
  • Bell pepper: A medium red bell pepper provides 169% of your daily vitamin C (source)
  • Garlic
  • Fresh green beans: You can find long fresh green beans in the produce section in bulk or packaged
  • Bamboo shoots: Look for them in the canned section! They add a tangy flair that’s uniquely tasty
  • Red curry paste: The flavor maker! See below for more about this special ingredient
  • Brown sugar, soy sauce and lime: these make the perfect tangy sweet combination; substitute tamari if desired
  • Coconut oil: Coconut oil adds a nice coconut scent; we typically use refined but unrefined also works
  • Coconut milk: Use only full-fat or regular here for the right richness and body
  • Sambal oelek: Customize your heat level with this hot sauce

More about red curry paste: what to look for & brands

Red curry paste is a jarred paste that takes all the flavor of a Thai curry and concentrates it into a paste. It’s a shortcut for Western kitchens: In traditional Thai cooking, you’d make it with the real ingredients! Curry paste is made with chili peppers, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, kaffir lime leaves, cumin, coriander, and more. It brings incredible flavor and lasts for months in the fridge. This tofu coconut curry is a red curry, so you’ll need red curry paste. A few notes on this ingredient:

  • It ranges from mild to medium spicy, based on the brand. We like Thai kitchen curry paste because it’s very mild but brings big flavor. But there are many great brands to try. Make sure to taste your curry paste before using it! If it’s very spicy, use less than the recipe specifies.
  • Find it near the Thai products in most grocery stores. It keeps for months in the refrigerator and you can use it in lots more recipes. You can also buy it online: Thai Kitchen red curry paste.
Tofu curry recipe

Add back the heat with sambal oelek or Sriracha

The base of this tofu curry recipe is pretty mild. If you love Thai food, you know: it can be very spicy. We love the heat over here, but more of a medium level. Because we’re always cooking for a 4 year old too, we generally keep our base curry recipe mild and then add hot sauce at the table. Here are some notes about the heat in this tofu red curry:

  • Use hot sauce to taste! The 1 teaspoon hot sauce in this recipe adds a mild amount of heat. If you’d like medium, double it. For very spicy, use as much as you’d like! As we mentioned, it’s nice to do this in your bowl vs the entire pan: but it’s up to you.
  • Hot sauces that work well here include:
    • Sambal oelek, an Indonesian chili sauce made of chili peppers, garlic, ginger and lime. It has a chunky texture and little to no sugar.
    • Sriracha, a smooth hot sauce that originated from Thailand made of chile peppers, vinegar, garlic and sugar
    • Garlic chili sauce, similar to Sriracha with a chunkier texture, made with chilies and lots of garlic. It tastes a little brighter than Sriracha and has more nuance.

What to serve with tofu curry: jasmine rice and more

This tofu curry is a Thai-style red curry, so it’s most authentic to serve it with rice. Don’t add naan: that’s for an Indian-style curry! Here’s the best type of rice to serve alongside:

  • Jasmine rice (best fit): Jasmine rice is also called Thai fragrant rice: because of its beautiful popcorn-like nutty flavor. Try Stovetop Jasmine Rice or  Instant Pot Jasmine Rice.
  • Basmati rice (also works): Basmati rice also works, but it’s less fragrant and more often used for Indian curries. See Stovetop Basmati Rice and Instant Pot Basmati Rice.
  • Jade rice (for fun!): Jade rice is a fun option: it’s naturally dyed green using bamboo extract and has a fluffy texture almost like couscous. We served the squash curry this way and it was excellent. 

And that’s it! Let us know what you think of this tofu coconut curry. It’s become a favorite around here, and we hope you love it too!

Tofu red curry

Is tofu healthy?

Last up: let’s clear up one thing. There’s a lot of misinformation around tofu! But eating tofu several times per week is part of a healthy diet. Per to the Harvard School of Nutrition, soy is a nutrient-dense source of protein that can safely be consumed several times a week. It’s likely to provide health benefits, especially when you eat it as an alternative to red meat and processed meat. For more, go to Straight Talk About Soy and Is Tofu Good for You?

More great tofu recipes

While we used to avoid tofu, but it’s now one of our favorites for quick and easy plant based meals! This tofu curry recipe is a whole food plant based dinner that’s full of huge flavor and lots of nutrients. Here are some of our other favorite ways to eat tofu:

This tofu curry recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Tofu curry

Coconut Tofu Curry


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (10 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This tofu curry recipe is a family favorite! Coconut milk and red curry paste pack a punch in this fast and healthy dinner idea.


Ingredients

Scale
  • Jasmine rice, for serving
  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, divided 
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 cups long green beans
  • 1/2 cup canned bamboo shoots, drained
  • 3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 15-ounce can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice 
  • 1 teaspoon Sambal oelek, Sriracha, or chili garlic sauce (optional), plus more to taste

Instructions

  1. Start the jasmine rice (use Stovetop Jasmine Rice or Instant Pot Jasmine Rice).
  2. Pan fry the tofu: Pat the tofu dry with a towel. Cut it into large cubes (about 1/2 inch x 1 inch). Melt 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the tofu cubes and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and cook 5 to 6 minutes until lightly browned on the bottom. Briefly remove the pan from the heat to reduce spitting and flip the tofu with a spatula. Return the heat to medium high and cook another 5 to 6 minutes until browned. Remove the tofu to a bowl and set aside. 
  3. Prep the veggies: While the tofu cooks, mince the onion. Mince the garlic. Thinly slice the bell pepper
  4. Cook the curry: In the same skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute 5 minutes, until it is translucent. Add the garlic, red pepper and green beans and saute for 3 minutes. 
  5. Add the bamboo shoots, red curry paste, coconut milk, brown sugar, soy sauce, lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and Sambal oelek (if using). Bring to a simmer. Once simmering, add the tofu and cook about 5 to 8 minutes until the sauce is thickened and the veggies are tender. Taste and add additional Sambal oelek to your desired spice level.
  6. Serve: To serve, spoon the tofu and sauce over rice. Store refrigerated for up to 3 days.
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Thai inspired

Keywords: Tofu curry, Tofu curry recipe, Tofu red curry, tofu coconut curry

Subscribe for free weekly recipes & more!

About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

No Comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.