No one's saying you have to go meatless just because it's Monday -- but as an incentive to join the growing Meatless Monday movement, we're featuring an animal-free recipe each week.
This green curry is more advanced than last week's banana walnut muffins -- you'll be making the curry sauce from scratch -- but if you're looking for a tasty meatless dinner to impress that vegetarian guy or girl, this is an excellent option.
You will need:
1 block firm tofu 2 serrano chiles, seeded and chopped 2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped 2 teaspoons coriander seeds 5 black peppercorns 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin 1 tablespoon chopped lemongrass (fresh) 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger 3 cloves garlic 1 cup lightly packed cilantro (keep some back for garnish if you like) 1 lime 1 cup shallots, finely chopped 5 tablespoons peanut oil 1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced 1 medium-sized red onion, thinly sliced 1 can coconut milk (15-oz.) 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil (use Thai basil if you can)
We suggest serving this dish over a bed of rice, so first turn on your rice cooker and get that grain started.
1. You'll need to press the tofu while you prepare the sauce and slice the veggies. We recommend organic tofu, which is made from non-genetically modified soybeans (Denver Tofu Company is a great local option).
To press tofu, line a large plate with several paper towels (or very clean cloth towels). Place the tofu on top of the towels and add another layer of towels on top of the tofu. Put a large, flat-bottomed pot or another plate on top of the tofu and weigh the pot or plate down with canned food, bottled drinks -- anything in your kitchen that's heavy enough to press the liquid from the tofu. Let it sit while you prepare the sauce.
2. Put the chopped chile peppers (serranos and jalapenos) in a bowl and pour 1/2 cup boiling water over them; let it sit and mingle for fifteen to twenty minutes. (If you like spicy curry, consider leaving in some of the seeds when you chop your chiles.)
3. Toast the coriander seeds and peppercorns in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant (two to three minutes). You can be lazy and skip this step; just replace the coriander seeds with 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander.
4. Grind the coriander seeds and peppercorns (or just the peppercorns if you're using ground coriander) in a small food processor or mortar and pestle. You can use a coffee grinder, too. If using ground coriander, add it to the peppercorns after grinding them.
5. Mince the lemongrass and ginger.
6. Zest the lime.
7. Chop the shallots.
8. Add the cumin, lemongrass, water-and-chile mixture, garlic, cilantro, lime zest and shallots to the food processor and pulse together until you have a thick paste.
9. Cut the now-pressed block of tofu into thin triangles; slice the bell pepper and the red onion.
10. Heat half the peanut oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook the tofu triangles in the oil until golden-brown on each side (four to five minutes per side). Remove from heat and set aside. Add more oil as needed.
11. Saute the red onion and bell peppers in the same skillet until just slightly tender. Add more oil as needed.
12. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the chile paste and cook until warm, stirring regularly. Add the can of coconut milk (if you're using full-fat, shake it very, very well first). Mix until the milk is incorporated and turn the sauce up to a low boil.
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13. Add the maple syrup and lime juice.
14. Add the tofu, bell peppers and red onions to the sauce. Cover and simmer for five to six minutes. Add the basil, turn off the heat and let sit for a few minutes before serving. (You did remember to put the rice on, right?)
Although labor-intensive, this flavorful curry is definitely worth the time. Make a double batch for great leftovers; the flavors intensify as the curry sits.