This creamy and rich vegan Thai red curry with tofu is a great hearty dinner to have ! Easy to make and ready in 45 minutes.
This vegan Thai red curry is definitely my definition of comfort food ! It is creamy, hearty and flavorful, hitting the spot every time. Especially love pairing it with some freshly cooked rice, or some green curry fried rice.
The best part is, this is a one pot meal and can be made under 30 minutes, making it the perfect easy weeknight dinner to make. As we will be using red curry paste here, it makes the process much more quicker and easier ( hence no pestle and mortal needed 😉).
💚Why you will love this recipe
- A comforting dish that will please both vegans and meat-eaters - This curry is creamy, flavorful and delicious, that will even leave omnivores wanting for more !
- Easy and quick to make - Everything is ready just under 45 minutes, and only 10 simple ingredients needed. ( excluding salt and water )
- Hearty, filling yet healthy - This vegan Thai red curry is packed full of veggies, and only contains about 350 calories per serving.
- Suitable for meal prep - Make a large batch and you will have dinner ready to go for the next few days. It will taste even better the day after ! They are freezable too.
🍛What is Thai red curry
Red curry is one of the most popular Thai dish and can be found almost everywhere around the world ! It usually consist of red curry paste cooked in creamy canned coconut milk. Oftentimes, ingredients like meat, seafood and vegetables are added.
This dish is usually paired with rice of some sort, the most common one being steamed Jasmine white rice.
To make this dish vegan, we are going to use tofu as a substitute for meat.
Difference between red and green curry
Unsurprisingly, the main difference between red and green curries is the chili peppers used ! In red curries, red chilis ( fresh, dried or a mixture of both ) are used as a base for its paste, making it red in color.
As for green curries, fresh green chilies are the main component in its paste. To intensify the green color of green curries, other herbs like kaffir lime leaves, cilantro and Thai basil leaves are usually added.
🌶What you will need
📓Notes / Substitutions
- Tofu - Can be substituted with other plant protein like chickpeas, seitan or store-bought meat replacement. You can skip the pan-frying step and just toss them in at the end.
- Cornstarch - Potato starch can be used in place.
- Red curry paste - Do be careful as not all paste are vegan, as shrimp paste ( belacan ) might be added. I am using Thai's Kitchen red curry paste and it is vegan friendly. You can also make your own paste if you have time on hand.
- Vegetables - Feel free to use any veggies you have on hand in place. Some veggies that works well in this includes cauliflower, snap peas, bell peppers of any sort and mushrooms.
- Coconut milk - Both full fat or skimmed coconut milk can be used, but full-fat ones will yield curry that is creamier and richer in flavor. Mine comes in carton as this is how it is packaged here in Malaysia, but if you are in America or Europe, do get the canned ones.
- Oil-free - For tofu, pan-fry it dry without oil on a good non-stick pan. Or, you can simply skip pan-frying them and toss them along with the vegetables. Use ¼ cup of water in place of oil when cooking vegetables.
🔪How to make
Mix together salt and cornstarch. In a zip-top bag, place in tofu cubes along with cornstarch-salt mixture. Zip the bag and toss it until tofu cubes are well-coated.
Heat up about ½ tablespoon of neutral oil in a cast iron skillet / non-stick pan on medium high heat. Place tofu cubes in one layer and cook for 3-4 minutes on each sides, or until most sides are golden brown. Set aside.
In a Dutch oven / soup pot, place in about ½ tablespoon of oil and heat over medium high. Add in onion and saute until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in garlic, ginger and curry paste and cook for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
Add in coconut milk, water, bell pepper, broccoli, carrot and salt. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat to a gentle simmer. Place the lid on and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until veggies have softened, stirring every few minutes.
Turn off heat and toss in pan-fried tofu. Stir until everything is well incorporated. Serve it with some freshly cooked rice and enjoy !
- Use canned coconut milk - Make sure to use canned coconut milk, not the ones in cartons that are used as a milk substitute.
- Make it extra spicy - Toss in some chili flakes, sliced chili or drizzle on some sriracha.
- Pressing your tofu - Be sure to press your tofu beforehand, either by using a tofu press or by stacking something heavy on it, be it pots or heavy plates. Do check out this post on how to press tofu for a more detailed instruction.
- Cooking tofu - For a quicker version, simply skip coating and pan-frying them. Toss them in alongside other vegetables, coconut milk and water. The tofu won't be crispy and will be less flavorful, but still delicious regardless.
🍚How to serve
There are actually many different ways to serve your vegan Thai red curry ! Other than pairing them with steamed rice, here are a few other serving ideas :
- Cook up your favorite noodles beforehand and serve curry over noodles to make some curry noodles.
- Pair them with stir-fry rice vermicelli noodles ! This is a really popular pairing in Malaysia, and is seriously one of the best food combo ever. Do remember to drizzle that rich curry sauce over your noodles !
- This dish can also be served with some flatbreads, roti or naan.
- Some of the side dishes that pairs well with this dish includes Thai quinoa salad, vegan summer rolls and Indonesian sambal tempeh.
❔Commonly asked questions
Restaurant served Thai red curry are oftentimes dairy-free. Unlike Indian curries, Thai ones rarely uses yogurt, milk or other dairy products. But do be sure to double check with the waiter ( or waitress ) , especially if you are lactose intolerant !
Unfortunately, some of the red curry paste are not vegan as they contain shrimp paste. But the good news is, there are some good vegan-friendly paste out there ! I really love the Thai Kitchen and Maesri ones. If you are looking for a organic sugar-free and oil-free paste, try out this red curry paste by Mekhala.
Let vegan Thai red curry cool down to room temperature before transferring it into sealed containers. It can then be refrigerated for 4-5 days.
This curry is also freezable too ! It can be frozen for up to 3 months. To reheat, let it thaw in the fridge overnight. You can then reheat it on stove or in the microwave.
Do note that the texture of tofu will change slightly and be chewier after freezing.
Yes, both red and green curry paste can be used interchangeably. The flavors and spice levels will be slightly different ( green curry paste is spicier than the red ones ) , but not neccessarily in a bad way !
Thai red curry has a pretty mild spice level that is tolerable by most people. If you are super sensitive to spicy food, feel free to reduce the amount of red curry paste used, or swap it with yellow curry paste that is much milder than red.
But if you like your curry to be extra spicy, dial up the heat by adding some chili flakes, Thai chilies or a generous drizzle of sriracha !
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Vegan Thai Red Curry with Tofu
For the tofu
- 1 14 oz block extra firm tofu pressed, drained and cubed
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch *
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the curry
- Mix together salt and cornstarch. In a zip-top bag, place in tofu cubes along with cornstarch-salt mixture. Zip the bag and toss it until tofu cubes are well-coated.
- Heat up about ½ tablespoon of neutral oil in a cast iron skillet / non-stick pan on medium high heat. Place tofu cubes in one layer and cook for 3-4 minutes on each sides, or until most sides are golden brown. Set aside.
- In a Dutch oven / soup pot, place in about ½ tablespoon of oil and heat over medium high. Add in onion and saute until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in garlic, ginger and curry paste and cook for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add in coconut milk, water, bell pepper, broccoli, carrot and salt. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat to a gentle simmer. Place the lid on and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until veggies have softened, stirring every few minutes.
- Turn off heat and toss in pan-fried tofu. Stir until everything is well incorporated. Serve it with some freshly cooked rice and enjoy !
Do note that the texture of tofu will change slightly and be chewier after freezing.