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Veges and Tofu with Green Curry

As long as I'm on my Vegetarian kick, I ought to add my first (and maybe happiest) invention. Now, it's not strictly vegetarian because it uses Vietnamese fish sauce, but Mrs. O has decreed that condiments don't count around here, or something like that. And I am told that there's a veggie version that would probably work.

This is also another dish, like the Artichoke Spaghetti, that can be made entirely from Trader Joe's stuff; in fact, it may be required unless you can roll your own green curry sauce.


This recipe serves 3-4 people as a principal course.

14-oz pkg extra firm tofu
fish sauce

small yellow or white onion, or 1/2 larger one, sliced thin
4 or 5 Roma tomatoes, seeded/de-juiced and coarsely chopped
4-5 zucchini, yellow squash or both, in chunks
oil, salt

TJ's Thai Green Curry Simmering Sauce, 1/2 jar
TJ's Light Coconut Milk, 1/2 can

Rice or quinoa, cooked to serve with

Drain tofu and pat dry, then cut into roughly 3/4" cubes. Toss in bowl with fish sauce and Sriracha, allow to marinate.

Since there are a couple more ounces of coconut milk than curry sauce, measure out half the sauce into a measuring cup then top up the jar with coconut milk. Cover and refrigerate for next time (it keeps very well). Then pour the rest of the milk into the measuring cup, stir, and set aside.

Heat oil in wok or large, deep sauté pan, then cook onion over medium heat until transparent. Add tomatoes, raise the heat a little and cook until there's a good bit of juice. Add squash, sprinkle on about 2 tsp. of salt, cover and cook until squash is tender but not mushy. Stir in the tofu, pour the sauce over all, stir, cover, and let simmer for about ten minutes. If your rice is still cooking the dish will keep well on a hot tray.

Many other vegetables may be used instead of or in addition to squash. I have used green beans and cut-up new potatoes, carrot, snow peas, eggplant. Cut-up hard-boiled egg is a good addition too. An excellent non-vegetarian addition is cooked chicken or shrimp; in a mixed group these can be passed separately at the table.

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  1. I used long beans and green eggplants for green curry recipes with some julienne carrots for color. Beside tofu, I also do it with tempeh. Of course, I add more fresh chili pepper in mine... yummy !

    1. This is a great weeknight dinner. As long you as have a block of tofu and jarred curry sauce, you're good to go with whatever random veggies happen to be lurking in your kitchen.

      1. My daughter and her friends lived on this when she was in college, it is very budget friendly, easy, and you can use any veg from your fridge. Sometimes she used potatoes instead of tofu.

        1. love a green curry - definitely a path to a satisfying veggie meal. Yea on the not giving up fish sauce too :) there is no replacement

          Have you tried the Maesri Brand green chili paste - personally I much prefer it to TJ's flavor and if you have access to an Asian market it is also cheaper.

          side by side on the ingredients I think it comes ahead

          Fresh Green Chili, Garlic, Wild Ginger, Shallot, Lemon Grass, Salt, Kaffir Lime, Sugar, Galangal, Spices ( Coriander seeds, Cumin, Cardamon, Tumeric ). Pepper

          Water, Coconut milk (Coconut milk, cornstarch, guar gum, xanthan gum, carrageenan) Anaheim pepper puree, Tamari soy sauce (water, soybeans, wheat and salt), cilantro, Serrano pepper puree, cane sugar, ginger puree, lime juice concentrate, arrowroot powder, sea salt, organic shredded coconut, garlic, xanthan gum, dried coriander, dried cumin, dried lemongrass, shallots, white pepper

          9 Replies
          1. re: JTPhilly

            I agree 100% with JTPhilly that the "simmer sauces" offerd by TJ or most any other mfgr. are pale substitues for the real deal. (And I still have a jar of TJ's Indian Tikka Masala simmer sauce to use up when I bought two where the first was less than enjoyable.)

            I too also use Maesri or Mae Ploy curry pastes regularly and the food turns out restaurant quality every time.

            Maybe I'm too much of a purist, or probably i don;t mind taking a few extra steps while cooking versus "dump and heat" jar products.

            As for green curry, almost anything works in it for me. Yum!!!!!!!

            1. re: JTPhilly

              Thanks for posting the ingredients. I find it surprising that Maesri and May Ploy seem to have "all natural ingredients," but seem to last so long without any degradation in quality. Usually, we have four different Mae Ploy curries in rotation. I like the green with beef and asian eggplant, but that's not vegetarian.

              I have a source for the small cans of coconut milk and am fortunate enough to have a Thai grocer three minutes away in Austin for palm sugar and other things. Like the cauliflower idea, I usually use the yellow for chicken, potato, cauliflower, and carrots for the typical yellow comfort curry.

              Will Owen's recipe might work better for my kids, as they are young and respond to the sweetness, but I have to push it for them sometimes. They gripe about the spiciness in much of my cooking. We just got a Trader Joe's here.

              Here's the Mae Ploy Green Curry ingredients:

              green chile, garlic, shallot, lemongrass, salt, galanga, shrimp paste, kaffir lime peel, coriander seed, pepper, cumin, turmeric.

              (It's kind of easy to grow kaffir lime plants in pots, which is my source for leaves, but I cannot easily get the limes or peel....the plants don't produce limes here).

              1. re: rudeboy

                it takes years for them to produce fruit, i was told

                1. re: alkapal

                  I had one for years in TX and it never produced fruit. I don't know enough about plants to ponder why they fruit in SE asia and not here. Maybe an insect? Regardless, I am nurturing two plants now, in a pot, that are going gangbusters. Twigs at first, about six inches tall now with many double-leaves. I'd imagine that by the end of summer, at this rate, the will be production quality. Maybe sooner!!

                  1. re: rudeboy

                    sounds good! the leaves are so wonderful, and to have them fresh is a blessing.

                    1. re: rudeboy

                      Do they ever flower at all? We have two Meyer lemons and plenty of bees; I think a pollinated hybrid of those and Kaffir lime would be, ummmm, sub-lime …

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        Will Owen - I've never seen any flowers at all from a plant that lasted about 7 or 8 years, Maybe it is the species that I can get here - don't know enough about it. Haven't been to Thailand (Yet!) to see the plants there, so I just appreciate that I can have an infinite source of leaves.

                        A hybrid would be awesome, though. Bees are starting to disappear for some reason!

                        1. re: rudeboy

                          do you need two trees for cross-pollination?

                          1. re: alkapal

                            I have two, but based on everything I've read, you can't get the limes here in TX. Not sure why not. There's never any flowers anyhow. Still, though, it's worth growing for the leaves.

              2. Thanks for the recipe. I do something similar with this, but use cauliflower. I throw the tofu straight in - next time i'll do the siracha/fish sauce marination.

                1. check out patak's thai green curry sauce for vegetarian compliance. it is very good! as are the jalfrezy and korma sauces.

                  1 Reply
                  1. Thanks for the feedback on using pastes instead of the prepared sauce; in Nashville we hadn't gotten a Trader Joe's yet, but we had an increasing number of ethnic markets, and all the Asian ones had canned curry pastes of every color and heat level, which I learned to use. The recipe as given is in some ways an example of giving up authenticity for convenience and getting away with it, or near enough to satisfy me and the people I've fed it to. Having done that, perhaps it's time to go get that paste!

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Will Owen

                      Another nice thing is add a lime leaf while the curry simmers. I bought a pack for about a dollar or two and they are sitting in my freezer. They'll last for years although I suspect they'll eventually lose their vibrancy.

                      I also add a fair bit of lime juice at the end; I find it cuts the sweetness of the coconut milk which to me gets cloying after a while.

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        there is a specific flavor in the TJ simmer sauce I find cloying that does not exist in the paste - I am not sure what it is - opposite from you I went the other way - TJ sauces first then "discovered" the paste, which I found I really prefer.

                        1. re: JTPhilly

                          The ingredients list you posted earlier for the simmer sauce has both coconut and sugar. I'm not surprised you found it cloying.

                          1. re: JTPhilly

                            Not all Simmer sauces are bad, but most are about convenience.

                            If you keep any curry paste around (once a can is opened, if placed in a lidded jar it will keep for months), you need the basics like ginger, garlic, coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar (or better palm sugar), lime juice and zest, chili flakes, etc.

                            Not a lot of folks keep that around in many USA households.

                            I'm an anomaly but the jar is easy, so it has it's place thus I applaud it. If it's good. There in lies the challenge.

                            And BTW Will Owen, the canned/tinned Maesri currys are not overly spicy including red curry, green curry, yellow curry, masaman and panang. Chile flakes, ground chile or pods are what I add for heat. Very common.

                            I get small curry (tuna can sized) cans in my city in the midwest for 80 cents to $1 a pop for all the above each can. Maseri or Mae Ploy.

                            Low investment . High return.

                            Mega cheap for the meals you can get. Find a paste you like, then buy a tub. Even cheaper.

                            1. re: jjjrfoodie

                              I can't imagine keeping a kitchen without garlic and chile flakes, nor fish sauce these days! Limes are suddenly hard to come by, but we always have them in hot weather for those essential G&Ts … and I usually have a chunk of ginger handy too. This kind of food is mainstream here in SoCal; even the Kroger affiliate I most often use for whatever TJ's doesn't have has everything you list except for palm sugar and those curry pastes.

                              1. re: Will Owen

                                Mae Ploy is the best in my opinion(for curry paste). I think I've said this in other threads, so sorry for the repetition. I've given up on making my own (other than a heavy fresh turmeric curry) because this product is infinitely superior than what I can create.

                        2. Another user of the tinned paste here. One of my pantry staples.

                          Coconut milk tip: Do not shake, Remove the top of the can and skim the fat off of the milk (use the full-fat version). Use this fat to saute your veggies.

                          1. Have you tried TJs tempeh yet? It would be amazing in this curry too (found in the same area as the tofu)

                            I love adding sweet potato chunks to curries and then instead of serving over a grain i serve over fresh spinach which then wilts perfectly....

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Ttrockwood

                              Your suggestion, plus a Serious Eats posting I just saw about something using spaghetti squash, made me think that might be a good thing to top with this. I'd thought of and rejected noodles, but that squash's rather annoying (to me) wimpy vegetableyness would fit in here very well without ramping up the carb load. And heaven knows there has to be some way to make that stuff interesting!

                              1. re: Ttrockwood

                                I'm also going to try the tempeh – got some this afternoon. As I've never had it before I'll need to taste it on its own before deciding what to combine it with. I love the suggestion of long beans, but I've got some yellow ones I need to use, and a couple of potatoes.

                                1. re: Will Owen

                                  Tempeh is really great cut in cubes or slices and seared until it turns golden in a pan, then add whatever sauce or add the tempeh to your dish as a swap where you would use an animal protein.
                                  Crumbled its a good swap anywhere you would use ground meat.
                                  Tempeh "bacon" is awesome, this is the basic recipe- the liquid smoke is a must IMO

                              2. will, i thought of you today as i made a vindaloo chicken curry but used a whole chopped eggplant with only a small bit of chicken. i'm loving eggplant lately as my universal vegetable. it is the chameleon of the veggie world (in a way like the processed tofu).