These Vegan Panang curries with tofu are my favorite. Curry always hits the spot no matter what! Few cravings cannot be fixed with a delicious curry in a hurry. Curry is delicious, full-bodied, and, more often than not, creamy.
Thailand has a handful of world-renowned curries from green, yellow, and red curries to the more decadent and subtly sweet Penang.
A Vibrant History of Thai Curry
Thailand is well known for its bright, vibrant, and deliciously spicy curries. Many of the world’s most famous curries come from Asia, each packaging its own distinct set of flavors.
While many Western curry dishes are made with store-bought curry powder, Thai curries are made with curry pastes. Freshly ground aromatics, herbs, spices, and roots form the base of curry pastes. The base to any of the aromatic Thai curries are lemongrass, galangal, and aromatics.
Panang Curry Paste Recipe
Try making your own homemade curry paste instead of purchasing from the shops. Many curry pastes might contain shrimp paste, meaning they aren’t vegan.
Making your own Thai Penang paste at home is a more cost-effective way to make traditional Thai curries without the worry of added hidden shrimp. Curry paste can easily be stored in your freezer – it helps if you portion it off before freezing.
- 2 dried chiles de árbol, remove the stem
- 2 dried guajillo chiles, remove the stem
- 2 fresh lemongrass stalks, bottom 4-inches only, remove the tough outer layer, slice thinly
- 3 tablespoons toasted peanuts
- 2 chopped peeled fresh galangal
- 6 fresh makrut lime leaves, finely chopped
- 1 large shallot, chopped finely
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 fresh serrano chiles, chopped finely
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
In a small bowl, soak the chiles de Arbol and guajillo in hot water for 15 minutes. Drain the water off.
Place the chillis and the other ingredients in a mortar and grind until smooth and aromatic (if you are using a food processor, pulse the curry paste ingredients together for 5 minutes until completely smooth).
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Vegan Penang Curry with Tofu
This delightfully rich and decadent Penang curry is paired beautifully with crispy tofu pieces and soft buttery bites of sweet potato. The heat is subtly warming, a real hug to your system. The plant-based coconut milk has a wholesome sweetness that tempers the warmth of the red curry paste.
This easy-to-make Thai curry recipe is perfect in any season. Wonder how long does tofu last? Don’t worry about it going bad fast, make an extra-large batch and just freeze it for a quick weekday curry in a hurry.
Vegan Panang Curry with Tofu
- 1 pound extra-firm tofu
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 4 tbsp coconut oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup chopped mixed bell pepper, green, red, and yellow,
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium-sized sweet potato, peeled and diced into cubes
- 4 tbsp Panang red curry paste
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- 12 kaffir lime leaves, crushed
- 13½ ounces coconut cream
- 3 tbsp Vegan fish sauce
- ¼ cup Thai basil leaves or sweet basil, chopped
- A handful of toasted peanuts. Steamed Jasmin rice with Thai Basil leaves or rice noodles
Prepared the tofu
- Prep the tofu by slicing it and placing it into a tofu press or by pressing it underneath a cutting board weighted down. Press the tofu for 15 minutes while you prep the other ingredients. Drain the excess liquid out of the press before using the tofu.
- Once the tofu has been pressed and drained, toss the tofu in some soy sauce. Dust the tofu with cornstarch. In a wok or a skillet on medium-high heat, warm two tablespoons of coconut oil. Fry the tofu pieces until golden brown and crisp on each side. Try not to move the tofu until it is crispy. Place the crispy tofu onto a paper towel to remove excess oil. Set aside.
Make the curry
- In a large cast-iron skillet or a deep wok, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Sautee the onions for 1 minute, add the peppers and garlic.
- Sautee for 3 minutes. Move the vegetables over to the side of the pan; in the center of the skillet, place the peanut butter and curry paste, cook until aromatic.
- Add the Kaffir leaves, coconut cream, and vegan fish sauce. Mixing the vegetables into the curry sauce. Add the diced sweet potato cubes and simmer uncovered for 12 – 15minutes. Stir to prevent the curry from sticking.
- Test to see if the sweet potatoes are soft and buttery. Remove from heat and add the chopped basil leaves.