Unlike the majority of Thai curry stir fries that call for curry paste made from fresh ingredients, this vegan pad pong karee recipe utilises common run-of-the-mill curry powder.
Pad pong karee translates to curry stir fry and its origins are in the hands of Teochew Chinese immigrants who knocked this dish together in Thailand's Chinatown. This Sino-Thai dish is most commonly served with crab as the main ingredient, but we're clearly not going to do that here.
A frequent complaint I hear from farang (white Westerners) in Thailand is a variation on "I eat Western food here because Thai food is too oily." This is mostly due to a misunderstanding of gap khao (food with rice) culture. Much of European and North American food culture sidelines rice, and hence it is not seen as the central aspect of a meal. Conversely, in Thailand, rice is the focal point and the dishes served alongside it are meant to flavour the rice. In this context, oily and rich food makes more sense.
I mention this because without rice this recipe, like many other Thai dishes, may seem an unnecessarily greasy dish for one. With rice and perhaps a salad like laap or som tam, and a soup (hello gaeng liang) suddenly you have a family meal set where every diner only consumes a small portion of each dish.
Tao hoo pad pong karee (tofu stir fried with curry powder) เต้าหู้ผัดผงกะหรี่
- 200 grams extra firm tofu cut into approximate 3cm by 1½ cm pieces
- Salt + water for boiling 1% ratio salt to water
- Oil for frying at least 2 cups
- ⅓ cup vegan cream or coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon nam prik pao (recipe in notes below)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons thin soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons seasoning sauce
- 2 teaspoons water
- 3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 100 grams yellow onion, cut into thin wedges
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 2-3 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 spring onion, angle cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 piece Chinese celery cut into 1 inch pieces (optional)
- 1 long red chilli, sliced (optional)
- Coriander (optional)
- Toasted sesame seeds (optional)
- Simmer the tofu for 15 minutes in salted water. Turn off heat an allow to cool. Drain and leave to dry on kitchen roll.
- Heat oil in a wok. Fry tofu until golden. Drain on kitchen roll.
- Whisk cream and nam prik pao together in a bowl.
- Combine the sugar, soy sauce, seasoning sauce, and water in a another small bowl.
- Heat oil in wok or pan. Add onion and saute until soft. Then add garlic, ginger, and curry powder. Fry for a minute. Add tofu and fry for another 30 seconds. Add spring onion, chinese celery, and soy sauce mixture. Cook for another 30 seconds.
- Pour milk mixture over and simmer for a a minute or two. Taste and season.
- Garnish with sliced chilies, fresh coriander, and sesame seeds (all optional) and serve with steamed jasmine rice.