Thai Green Curry with Vegetables and Tofu

by on April 28, 2011
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Thai Green Curry with Vegetables and Tofu
I’m not one of those food snobs who think that absolutely everything I cook has to be made from scratch. Though I believe that the results are usually better (and more nutritious) when all the ingredients are homemade, I’m not above using packaged ingredients, such as vegetable broth or canned beans, when the ingredients aren’t polysyllabic. I usually draw the line at using pre-mixed spices, though I make an exception for my beloved Maharajah curry powder and for more time-consuming seasonings like Thai curry pastes. So the first time I made this dish, I used green curry paste from a can, and it was delicious. It wasn’t food snobbery that led me to make my own green curry paste, but curiosity–a desire to see how all the individual ingredients combine to create something completely new. And in the process I found that the beauty of homemade curry paste is that you can still taste all the individual components–the heat of chiles, the sparkle of lime–a quality that’s lost during processing and canning. Homemade really is better.

But….It’s not so much better that you should pass up making Green Curry with Vegetables and Tofu if you’re short on time or can’t find all of the ingredients for the curry paste. Look for a green curry paste without fish sauce in your supermarket or Asian grocery store. But if you do have access to the ingredients and a little extra time, you’ll be surprised how quickly you can make your own curry paste, which will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks or in the freezer for 6 months. You’ll be able to make four to six batches of green curry from this one recipe:

Thai Green Curry Paste

Thai Green Curry Paste

(printer-friendly version)

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 5 medium green chilies, such as Serrano, stems removed and cut into large pieces
  • 3 stalks lemon grass, white part only, chopped
  • 2 shallots, peeled and quartered
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 1 grated rind of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves or Italian parsley (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons water (more as needed)

Thai Green Curry Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a small, dry skillet for about two minutes over high heat or until they become fragrant. Remove them to a bowl and allow to cool. Then grind them and the black peppercorns in a spice mill or coffee mill until powdered. (You may also grind them in a mortar and pestle).
  2. Place the spices and all remaining ingredients into a food processor and process until it’s a thick paste, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Add more water, if necessary to keep the mixture moving, and be careful not to breathe in the fumes as you remove the cover (I know this from experience!)
  3. Place in a tightly covered jar and refrigerate. Use within 2-3 weeks or freeze for later use.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 2 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 16 (about 1 cup)

Nutrition Facts

Nutrition (per tablespoon): 9 calories, 1 calories from fat, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1.8mg sodium, 48.1mg potassium, 2g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, <1g sugar, <1g protein, 0.3 points.




Long-time readers may notice that this is the first time that cilantro has appeared as an ingredient in one of my recipes. As I was researching green curry paste, I found that some recipes contained cilantro leaves, stems, and roots, while others called for just the roots or no cilantro at all. As someone who is genetically predisposed to think cilantro tastes like soap, I couldn’t quite bring myself to add it to my curry paste. And then I read in Real Vegetarian Thai that Nancie McDerMott used cilantro or Italian parsley only to add green color to the paste. So I opted for the parsley (which you can’t even taste in the finished recipe) and sprinkled chopped cilantro over my cilantro-loving husband’s bowl of curry.

Thai Green Curry with Vegetables and Tofu

Thai Green Curry with Vegetables and Tofu

(printer-friendly version)

I make this curry lighter by making my own cashew-coconut milk, but you can make it richer by using 2 cups of lite coconut milk instead. Or reduce the fat even more by using unsweetened almond or soy milk.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup dried, unsweetened coconut
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 tablespoons green curry paste
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons lite soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)
  • 1 package ounces extra-firm tofu, cubed and lightly pressed(see variations below)
  • 4 cups swiss chard leaves, thinly sliced (see variations below)
  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and stalks cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1 teaspoon sugar, agave nectar, or sugar substitute
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, to garnish

Instructions

  1. Place the cashews and coconut into a 2-cup measure and add water to reach the 2-cup line. Allow them to stand as long as possible, preferably several hours (but 20 minutes will do in a rush). When ready to use, transfer to a blender and blend at highest speed until as smooth as possible. Add cornstarch and blend again to combine. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large, non-stick wok or pan and add the onions. Cook until they begin to soften, adding a splash of water if necessary to prevent sticking, and then add the garlic and curry paste and cook for another minute.
  3. Blend the coconut mixture again briefly and add it to the wok. Stir in the vegetable broth, soy sauce, and tofu. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the Swiss chard and asparagus and stir well. Cover and simmer, stirring often, until vegetables are tender but asparagus is still slightly crisp. Stir in the lime juice and sweetener and add salt to taste. Serve over brown rice, garnished with chopped cilantro.

Variations

Instead of uncooked tofu, you may use baked tofu or 2 cups of shelled edamame. Also, you can reduce fat by using lite tofu.

Instead of chard, use 4 cups of any green leafy vegetable that you like; bok choy, mizuna, and other Asian greens are particularly good.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 20 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6

Nutrition Facts

Nutrition (per serving): 142 calories, 61 calories from fat, 7g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 335.8mg sodium, 290.2mg potassium, 12g carbohydrates, 3.2g fiber, 3.7g sugar, 9.9g protein, 4.1 points.

Copyright © Susan Voisin 2011. All rights reserved. Please do not repost recipes or photos to other websites.


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{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Vibeke April 28, 2011 at 10:10 am

You have outdone yourself!!! WOW!!!! I’m impressed. :-)

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2 Sara @ Veggies For Real April 28, 2011 at 10:20 am

Green curry is my favorite. A friend of mine and I often joke that it’s our barometer for the quality of a Thai restaurant. Despite my slight obsession with it, I’ve never made it at home. Thanks to you I now have no excuse! It looks delicious.

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3 Kip April 28, 2011 at 10:35 am

Why haven’t I ever thought of adding asparagus to Thai curries before seeing your picture (which has me craving green curry now, by the way)? I often use store bought curry pastes, but you’re right that the difference is super noticeable when you try a fresh made one. The flavours are so much brighter and distinct! Thanks for the recipe.

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4 Pk April 28, 2011 at 10:56 am

Like Sarah and Kip, I’ve never made my own green curry paste either. I’ve often looked at the bottle and wondered how they get all the magic inside, putting it back in the fridge after taking what I needed, thinking that making it from scratch was beyond me.

I am definitely going to try this.

And then maybe I’ll tackle the other thing that I have convinced myself is beyond my ability: pickled limes.

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5 Wendy (Healthy Girl's Kitchen) April 28, 2011 at 11:28 am

Beautiful. Can’t wait to make this one when my kitchen is done being renovated. It’s going to be at the top of my To Do list!

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6 Mary (What's Cookin' with Mary) April 28, 2011 at 12:17 pm

You made your own curry paste?! I am impressed. When I saw the title of the recipe in my reader I was thinking… I have a tub of green curry paste I need to use .. lol. …but I’m pretty sure making my own would blow that out of the water.

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7 Marta April 28, 2011 at 12:34 pm

That looks great! I’ve never had a green curry before, I usually use a red curry paste. I’m just curious if you have a recipe for that (I’m tempted to just use the set of ingredients on the back of the jar and experiment, but afraid my proportions will be way off)?

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8 Robin April 28, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Ha, I love the cilantro footnote! I totally hear yah. I want to like it, I do…but it’s so wretched! Interesting point though from McDermott, but I’ll still probably follow your strategy.
Thanks for another lovely post!

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9 Laina April 28, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Looks delicious, Susan. Unfortunately we don’t have an Asian Market. But what I’m planning to do it to go to the nursery and see if they have lemon grass. I’ll plant some and wait until it grows enough so that I can try this recipe.

If the supermarket doesn’t have serrano, can jalapenos be substituted? Would you use less or more?

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10 SusanV April 28, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Laina, jalapenos are supposedly milder than Serranos, so you would probably use more. I wouldn’t use more than 6 jalapenos, though.

I would love to grow my own lemon grass! I’m going to have to look for it in the nursery.

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11 Laina April 28, 2011 at 4:56 pm

I grew it one year, but didn’t know what to do with it and it grows really well. Took up a lot of my garden so since I wasn’t using it I pulled it out. Now I wish I hadn’t. :( Silly me. So I’ll try to plant another one if I can find it at the nursery. I could mail you a plant if you can’t fine one there. :)

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12 SusanV April 28, 2011 at 10:42 pm

It’s so sweet of you to offer! Let me look around here first. I know of someone local who grows lemongrass so it must be available here–I just need to find it!

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13 Hannah April 28, 2011 at 1:04 pm

How many servings does this make?

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14 SusanV April 28, 2011 at 1:31 pm

It makes 6 servings. Thanks for pointing out that that got left off!

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15 Cecilia Nash April 28, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Dear SusanV

Do you have as cookbook…if so, let me know where I can purchase it. Your recipes are awesome, OMGoodness, & so healthy!….Cecilia

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16 SusanV April 28, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Thanks for the interest! I don’t have one yet, but I’ll be sure to announce it when I do.

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17 Tiffany April 28, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Susan, the green curry looks fabulous! Good for you for making the paste from scratch (although like you, I have no issue with using pre-made paste, which often works just fine). It never occurred to me to make cashew-coconut milk to replace canned coconut milk, but what a great idea. Thanks for sharing!

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18 Allison April 28, 2011 at 3:23 pm

This looks amazing! I am going to make it a.s.a.p.!! One question: If I use a little oil for the onion saute which oil would you recommend? I thought maybe sesame, but sesame is such a strong flavor I don’t want to ruin the integrity of the dish. What are your thoughts?

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19 SusanV April 28, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Allison, I would use a milder flavored oil like canola or light olive oil rather than sesame for the reason you mention. Hope you enjoy it!

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20 France @beyondthepeel April 28, 2011 at 6:47 pm

I have always used thai curry paste from a jar, more out of laziness than anything. Ok maybe I was a little intimidated, but when you put it into a 3 step process, there’s really no reason not to try! I used to think cilantro tasted like soap in my very early twenties, but now I don’t know what I’d do with out it. Maybe it’s an acquired taste. I also used to not like olives and now I’m addicted. Who knows.

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21 Simona April 28, 2011 at 7:45 pm

I’m just having my third bowl of soup! Green curry paste and soup are out of this world! I used coconut extract (1/2 tablespoon) instead of the dired one. Thank you Susan

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22 SusanV April 28, 2011 at 10:42 pm

I’m so glad you liked it! Thanks for posting!

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23 Suzie April 28, 2011 at 10:31 pm

What beautiful bowls! I’ve got to get to a ceramics class and make some like that to serve this fantastic recipe in. Beautiful presentation and pictures as always. Thanks!

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24 SusanV April 28, 2011 at 10:44 pm

Suzie, since I bought those bowls, I’ve seen them used on about 3 other blogs! If there’s an Anthropologie in your area, you can buy them there for $4 each–much less expensive than a ceramics class! :-)

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25 Anna from San Diego April 29, 2011 at 9:15 am

If you know someone who grows lemongrass, just pull out a couple stalks by the roots and stick them in a pot of dirt. (that way it won’t take over your whole yard!). Keep moist. It will look like it has died for some time before new stalks start growing out from the sides. I have limes and cilantro in my yard as well as the lemongrass and am excited to make this curry paste. Thanks!

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26 Cassie April 29, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Mmmm I love green curry. Making my own curry paste is definitely high up on my to-do list!

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27 Cameron April 30, 2011 at 7:16 pm

Great recipe. Easy to make, and lovely flavor. Thanks for taking the time to write recipes clearly and with appropriate brevity. It separates you from amateur cooks like me.

Quick question – use lemon juice as found in the ingredient list, or lime as instructed to in step four?

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28 Sandy April 30, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Hi I just discovered your awesome site! I will definitely try this recipe as I’ve always wondered how it was made.
I really appreciate the fact that you have not only vegan recipes but recipes that uses little or no fat. Most of the vegan recipes I know of call for a lot of margarine and I’ve been trying to help my fiance lose weight (he himself said he needs to shed a few pounds too). I will definitely be checking in often :)

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29 SusanV April 30, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Thanks for noticing that! It should be lime juice in both places. In fact, I used half of the lime that I peeled for the curry paste. I’ll change it as soon as I can.

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30 Em April 30, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Thanks Susan!
It certainly isn’t snobbery for us here but frugality that makes me cook from scratch-pinching pennies-making food from scratch! This looks very good.
Em

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31 Katie April 30, 2011 at 7:54 pm

I followed your recipes for the paste and curry. Absolutely delicious! My boyfriend and I loved the chard. One small detail: the tofu and veggie curry ingredients list juice of 1/2 a lemon but step four in the directions say lime juice.

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32 SusanV April 30, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Oops, that should be lime juice in both places. Ill change it as soon as I get back to my computer. Thanks for pointing it out!

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33 kate@ahealthypassion May 1, 2011 at 11:17 am

I love curries and this looks amazing I think I have everything on hand :)

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34 Andrea @ Vegvacious May 2, 2011 at 10:54 am

This looks absolutely delicious! I’m always nervous cooking with curry, but I think I’m going to step outside the box and give this a try.

I’m right there with ya on the cilantro. I’d choose parsley any day!

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35 elizabeth May 3, 2011 at 12:31 pm

made this last night– curry paste and all! it was a lot of fun to make and was delicious. used 1 cup full fat coconut milk and 1 cup unsweetened soy. thanks for your great recipes!

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36 Moonwatcher May 3, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Hi Susan,

I’m back, with another long crazy comment. . .:) This recipe is delicious! And forgiving. . .so here comes the crazy part. . .as in when we readers say, I loved this recipe. . .and then proceed to say how we changed it . . but I still think the essence of it there, and I wouldn’t have thought of this ever myself. . .so. . .I really wanted to make this but had only a little tofu, half of a bunch of asparagus and one jalopeno. . so I halved the recipe, and opted for the chili paste to be milder, wtih a little more ginger. The chili paste, even mild, is pretty and delicious, and is as fabulous a success as your fresh roasted pepper salsa. . I always baulk at going through peeling all the roasted peppers, but then it tastes so good in the end it’s all worth it. Same here, only easier!!

Since coconut is basically off limits for me, I opted for the soy/almond milk option, again, using what I had, unsweetened soy and hazelnut milk. I added about a tablespoon of coconut extract for a mild coconut flavor. This sauce is wonderful. The chard and asparagus look so pretty in it.

Like D, I am a fan of cilantro, so I used it with abandon as well. By the way, the link about the genetics was fascinating. My Mom used to say cilantro tasted like soap to her. Now I know why. . .

Anyway, if i keep it mild like this, the only change I might make is not to add as much tamari as I did. And I may add some more paste to my leftovers. But this is a beautiful keeper–Thanks, Susan!!

xo

moonwatcher

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37 moonwatcher May 3, 2011 at 1:49 pm

ps–forgot to say that I used a combination of pressed tofu and edamame, since that’s what I had. I also think this would be good with aduki beans in it instead of the tofu or edamame, because of their mild sweet taste. I might try that sometime. And also a combo of non-dairy milk and cashew water, again with the coconut extract. Ah, the chemistry of the kitchen!

xo

moonwatcher

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38 Michele May 4, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Looks soo good and i absolutely loooove curry! Just finding your blog & loving it already!

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39 Melomeals: Vegan for $3.33 a Day May 7, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Yum! This is pretty much perfect. I’ve been making my own coconut milk too… so so much cheaper and better in my opinion!

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40 jason May 8, 2011 at 10:47 am

This was absolutely delicious. Thank you!!

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41 jp May 9, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Please tell us of all your substitutions so we might make our own without bias. Good information up to a point:
1) Thai curry has no ginger, rather, galangal (cousin in species but different in taste) is used.
2) Cilantro adds an element of taste (not just colour) that parsley cannot replace.
3) Small point, but, thai chilies would be better (if available), however, serranos are a pretty good substitute.
4) You’re cooking in non-stick (teflon)? Seriously, teflon? The health risks of non-stick kinda offset the benefits being vegan IMO.
I mean no disrespect. Your recipes are good. Just a Thai fanatic.
BTW jalapenos burn much much longer than thai or serranos and can be perceived as hotter. Thai, japon, serrano, or cayenne would be a better substitute.

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42 SusanV May 10, 2011 at 4:23 pm

My recipes are not meant to be “authentic,” which has little meaning in my opinion. I use ingredients that are available to me and that fit my needs. Avoiding cilantro is one of those needs, and I can assure you (because I have actually made this recipe) that the taste of the parsley is undetectable.

Most fears about Teflon are built on myths, and the unhealthfulness of oil far outweighs any concerns I have about Teflon.

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43 saurav May 9, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Oooo the curry looks lovely. I guess no much water is added to it. I did not much curries in my life. I’m the lover of soups and curries. Curries play an important in our state. It should be taken with rice here. A good curry would make our make better.

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44 Lisa May 10, 2011 at 11:13 pm

Oh my goodness! I have bought Thai Kitchen green curry paste before and hated it. It’s so unlike the green curry made from scratch in a restaurant. However, THIS recipe is amazing. I made it tonight, and it really rocked my world. I did use regular coconut milk, and the asparagus looked awful so I got green beans, and the only greens that made sense (given the selection) was napa cabbage. The flavor is SO good! Thank you so much – it was ridiculously easy and overall, just can’t be beat. Thankyouthankyou! Another Susan Voisin recipe success. You’re amazing.

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45 harriette May 11, 2011 at 7:04 am

Great stuff loved checking out some of you’r recipes,haven’t tried them yet.But i will.

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46 Dionna May 13, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Hi Susan! You’re a genius! I made this last night and it was delish!!! I modified a few thing and it still came out great. I added leeks and used bok choy instead of chard – I also used coconut milk because I couldn’t find dried. The dish came out fantastic – thanks for sharing your great recipes!

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47 janna May 15, 2011 at 9:09 am

I LOVE green curry! I use cauliflower with mine, so that it’s like a rice substitute. It fills me up more :)

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48 Marissa May 16, 2011 at 12:49 pm

I made this the other night with aduki beans instead of the tofu, and while it was delicious, I found that I ended up with so much extra curry sauce. Does this happen when you use tofu?

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49 SusanV May 16, 2011 at 1:48 pm

I think that the tofu does soak up some of the sauce because I wound up with less sauce than I had hoped for. When it’s served in Thai restaurants, it’s in a deep bowl and is much more liquid than solids.

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50 Stacie May 17, 2011 at 6:20 am

I made these last night. I used red curry instead of green curry (’cause that’s what i had in the fridge) and panko as my breading… while these were in the oven, my non-veg husband asked to see the recipe and asked why I never make anything normal… he quickly changed his tune after eating them.. WOOT WOOT… anything that can make my husband satisfied AND is vegan is a winner in my book… he said they tasted like deviled crab (whatever that is)… I thought they were pretty good and had some leftover “batter” and am going to try it with a breadcrumb crust tonight… Thanks again for a great recipe!!!!!:)

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51 Caryn Coleman May 21, 2011 at 6:22 pm

I love this!

Couple hassled and forgetful mom tricks: I made it with unsweetened soy milk and a few teaspoons of coconut extract and used oil-free store bought curry paste. One time I even used frozen asparagus from Trader the Joe.

When I can remember to soak the cashews and coconut in time (I bought them but …) I will try it chez you too. Including making the curry paste!

<3 your blog.

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52 Aparna May 24, 2011 at 10:00 am

Love Thai curry and I just picked up a packet of readymade paste. :)
Having grown up using cilantro/ coriander, I find it interesting that a lot of people find it “soapy”. But then parsley isn’t one of my favourites. :)
Love those bowls you’ve served the curry in.

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53 alison June 23, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Hi
I dont know if others have said this before but any chance of break downs of fat, calories etc for your recipes? That would be SO helpful
Thanks
Alison

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54 SusanV June 23, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Um, Alison? The nutritional info is right at the end of the recipe! ;-)

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55 Tim July 26, 2011 at 10:38 pm

I just made this and it smelled so good while I was cooking it. The aroma reminded me of the Thai restaurant curry. It tasted very good, although it came out thicker then this picture probably because I didn’t use as much soup broth as needed…. I am making some rice tomorrow and will have it as described with cilantro for lunch. Can’t wait!

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56 Art August 23, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Susan,
New to your site. great stuff! I’ll change the nuts to either macadamia (raw) or raw pistacios (maybe). Do u think leaving out the sweetener will work. No sugar for me. I’m assuming there is sugar in unsweetened coconut?

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57 cch22 December 18, 2011 at 9:42 am

HI,
Ok.. I don’t have curry paste.. but i do have curry powder. Can I substitute somehow???

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58 Susan Voisin December 18, 2011 at 11:13 am

I’m afraid not. They’re completely different in flavor.

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59 SHERRY ERNSPIKER May 9, 2012 at 10:48 pm

We made this tonight and it was delicous!!! Didn’t have enough green curry so we used the Red and everyone loved it. Thanks!

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60 Jan Wood May 15, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Wonderful recipe! My husband loved it and it will definitely be prepared again. I only used 2 peppers and that was more than enough heat for me. Thanks for sharing it!

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61 Georgia June 25, 2012 at 1:14 am

Hi Susan,

Firstly I would like to say thank you and that I absolutely adore your website – as does my increasingly vegan family whom constantly request your recipes!
Life is made much easier with thanks to you.
Just curious, how many ounces of tofu do you suggest exactly here? Would that be a 14 or 16 ounce package? Forgive me if it’s obvious, as I am from Sydney where we talk in grams.

Kind Regards,
Georgia.

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62 Susan Voisin June 25, 2012 at 7:25 am

Thank you, Georigia! I’m happy that my recipes are a hit with your family. I use a 14-ounce package of tofu in this just because that’s what’s available here, but an extra couple of ounces probably wouldn’t make a lot of difference.

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63 Cecilia February 4, 2013 at 7:35 am

Thanks so much for this beautiful recipe! I loved it and so did my husband. And it’s so easy to make. I’ll stay tuned;)

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