Daily Archives: February 16, 2010

Penang curry

Make-you-own Thai takeout

My favorite place to find new cookbooks is the Barnes & Noble discount section. There, I find all sorts of beautifully photographed books for all cuisines. Recently, I picked up “The Big Book of Thai Curries” by Vatcharin Bhumichitr. It is food porn for Thai lovers.

I used this new book to make a Valentine’s Day dinner for my sweetie, who happens to love penang curry with tofu. The cookbook is authentic enough to have recipes for making the curry from scratch – but I don’t have a mortar and pestle, and I’m lazy. So I just bought some red curry from Whole Foods. I also picked up a box of firm tofu, a can of coconut milk, basil and fresh kaffir lime leaves (fun fact: the book tells me that kaffir limes have very little juice and they look like really bumpy limes).

I could not believe how yummy this dish turned out, and so close to what I’ve been ordering at Thai restaurants. Maybe most Thai restaurants use store-bought curries, too? (Another fun fact: the biggest difference between Thai and Indian curries is that Thai curries are “wet” or fresh, and Indian curries are dried)

I’ve rewritten the recipe to our liking and availability of ingredients…please try this if you don’t have any aversion to coconut milk (it can upset some people’s tummies)!

Chicken-tofu penang curry


  • 1 can coconut milk (not low-fat)
  • 2 T canola oil
  • 2 1/2 T red curry paste (I used Thai kitchen)
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, sliced thin
  • 1 package extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
  • 3 T fish sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 4-5 kaffir lime leaves, depending on size
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 20 basil leaves, chopped or torn (about one large bunch)
  • Cooked white or brown rice (start this first because the meal cooks quickly)

In a medium nonstick skillet, heat 4 T canola oil and add tofu, browning on all sides. Beware of splatter! When done, set aside.

In a small saucepan, gently heat coconut milk until steaming and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 2 T oil. Add curry paste and stir-fry 2 min. Add chicken and stir-fry until lightly cooked, about 5 min. Stir in tofu, coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar. Mix for 2 min. Add lime leaves, chilies and basil. Stir until basil is wilted and the flavors are combined, 5 min. Taste to see if it needs more sugar.

To serve, spoon rice on a plate or bowl and top with the curry. Garnish with extra basil leaves. (And do not eat the lime leaves). This serves 4-5.

I hope this book helps me get over my fear of Asian cooking – I already have a pork recipe picked out for later this week, so stay tuned!

Enjoy, friends! xoxo