Red Pepper Tofu Curry
Serves 4 as an entree with rice or noodles
Rich and red Sri Lankan-inspired tofu curry. The untraditional Mexican peppers give it an intense color and mellow fruity heat.
Two 12oz packages water-packed extra firm Chinese-style tofu
1 tablespoon teaspoons Chinese-style soy sauce
1 ½ oz dried red mild chili peppers such as Ancho, Guajillo or Panca (about 4 large dried chiles)
½ cup boiling water
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large red onion
4-6 curry leaves
3-4 Four inch pieces frozen rampe (bai thoi) leaves
One 3 inch stick cinnamon
2/3 cup vegetable broth or vegetarian chicken-flavored broth
1 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
½ inch thick sliver fresh ginger
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
3 oz cashew pieces (about ½ cup)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoons rice vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons Chinese-style soy sauce
1. Drain tofu and slice each block into 8 pieces horizontally. Layer on paper towels or clean dish clothes sandwiched between heavy cutting boards, then place a little more weight on top (cans or cookbooks work well here). Press tofu for 30 minutes, shake off any excess water and slice each piece into three rectangles. Place tofu in a large glass baking dish and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce.
2. While tofu is pressing place remove seeds and stems from dried chilies and discard. Place chiles in a heat-proof mixing bowl and cover with boiling water, let stand for 20 minutes. When chiles are softened puree in a blender or with an immersion blender to form a smooth sauce. Peel and half red onion and slice into ½ inch thick moons.
3. Meanwhile, grind together all of the curry paste ingredients either with a mortar and pestle or a food processor to form a thick, moist chunky paste. The mortar and pestle offers a little more control for rustic paste while the processor will create a curry paste that’s smooth and refined. Try both for different results.
Crumble curry paste over tofu and using your hands gently toss and pat the curry paste into the tofu cubes: some of the tofu will get crushed and that’s fine, but try to keep most of the cubes intact. Cover top of tofu with plastic wrap, gently press down and if desired weigh down with those cans again. Allow tofu to marinate for 1 hour or overnight.
4. When ready to cook tofu in a large heavy bottom pot over medium heat combine 1 tablespoon oil and red onion, fry for 4 minutes until softened. Add curry leaves, rampe leaves if using and cinnamon stick, cover and fry for another 2 minutes, remove from pan into a dish and set aside. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, add tofu fry for 6-8 minutes or until starting to turn golden, using a rubber spatula to gently flip the tofu. Sprinkle salt over tofu as it fries. Stir in broth, bring to a simmer while stirring and add chile puree, coconut milk, fried onion mixture and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust salt if necessary. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.