Saturday, March 3, 2007

Tonight's Dinner: Panang Tofu

This is one recipe I'm pretty proud to post, if I say so myself. Ever since we first had Panang at Spicy Thai in Buffalo, it's been a mild obsession of mine. I've tweaked the recipe over time, and while it's not quite as good as theirs, it's still pretty darn close. Here it is:

(measurements are approximate)

for the tofu:

• 1 block extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
• peanut oil for frying

Cut the tofu into bite-sized pieces and fry in the peanut oil until crispy on all sides. Set aside.

for the sauce:

• 2 tbsp chopped onion
• 1 tsp A Taste of Thai red curry paste
• 1 slice from the base of a piece of lemongrass
• 1 tbsp peanut oil

sauté until fragrant; add:

• 1 can coconut milk less ~1/6 can
• the rest of the base of the stalk of lemongrass (about 1 1/2 inches from the bottom), bruised (keep this in a few large pieces, since you'll want to pick it out later)
• 1 tbsp sugar
• 1 – 1 ½ good shakes soy sauce
• 1 tsp minced fresh garlic

stir. taste. add:

• 1 tbsp peanut butter (add 1 tsp at a time)
• 1 tsp grated fresh ginger (works best if you squeeze a couple garlic clove-sized pieces in a garlic press; you'll get mostly juice but that's what you want anyway)
• 1 ½ tsp (1 good squeeze) fresh lime juice

Stir. Taste. Add rest of the coconut milk and adjust with soy sauce, curry paste, sugar, peanut butter, lime. Thicken with corn starch slurry. Add:

• 1 head broccoli, cut into florets, steamed or microwaved until crisp-tender

and the tofu to the sauce, stir until combined and heated evenly. Serve over steamed jasmine rice. You can pick the lemongrass out of the sauce before serving or just put it to the side of your plate while you're eating. (It's kind of like bay leaves in that regard -- you want it in for flavour, but it's too tough to eat.)

Obviously this recipe isn't ridiculously healthy and is a little more involved to make than my day-to-day recipes, so we don't have it too often. However, when we're craving Spicy Thai and can't make it down there, this definitely does the trick.

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