Crispy Coconut Tofu with Burning Rings Of Fire

July 25, 2011
3 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

I have actually been meaning to enter this recipe for awhile, just to beef up the tofu selections here on Food52 (Seriously, did I just say beef up the tofu? Good grief), so here it is chili pepper week, lighting a fire under my butt (so to speak). I eat this often—it makes a great dinner, and great leftovers. —aargersi

Test Kitchen Notes

Let me start this review by telling you that this dish would be perfectly fine without the tofu (for you tofu haters). How do I know this? I accidentally ate half of the crispy tofu while I was preparing the rest of the dish. With the eggplant, tomato and onion, it's substantial on its own. Four jalapenos were the perfect amount of heat for me contrasting the sweet (lite) coconut milk. When it was finished I tasted it and thought 'Oh, I'll never go out for curry again,' it was so good. Then I saw the lime and basil sitting there and realized I had forgotten to add them and after doing so, it was even better. —nannydeb

What You'll Need
  • 1 pound firm tofu
  • 1 cup onion that is quartered and sliced
  • 1 cup diced tomato
  • 2 cups eggplant in 1/2-inch dice (I would normally use japanese but the garden gave me Rosa Bianca and it was fine)
  • 2 red fresno peppers (see note in Step 2) (red jalapeños work if you can't find fresnos)
  • 2 serrano peppers (see same note)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon Bragg amino acids (if you can't find, use soy sauce but a little at a time and taste as you go - which really you should do anyway)
  • 1 can (13.5 ounce) light coconut milk (full fat makes this too creamy for my taste but if that's how you roll by all means - go for it!)
  • 1/2 a juicy lime
  • A few leaves each shiso and Thai basil chopped - I usually just chiffonade
  • Salt
  • Cooked rice to serve with
  1. Prep the tofu—cut the "loaf" in half the long way. Roll it up in a long string of paper towels, place the package on a plate, tuck in the sides, put it on a plate and put a heavy pot or skillet on top to squash out the liquid.
  2. Chop all of your veggies—here is the NOTE on the peppers! Slice the stem off your peppers. Use a little paring knife to whittle out the seeds and pith. Rinse them out. Just because the whiff of seed takes your breath away doesn't mean they are butt burners, so slice a teeny bit off each one and taste them. For me, 2 of each was perfect heat. For you—maybe more maybe less—up to you. Decide, then slice your peppers into very thin rings.
  3. I cook this in a big wok. If you don't have one, use a skillet. Heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil to med-high. Unbundle the tofu and slice it into about 1-inch cubes. Lightly salt them, then into the pan. Let them sizzle and brown up on all sides—this takes a bit of cube-by-cube turning to get them brown on at least most sides. When they are nice and crisp remove them to a plate covered with more paper towels (sorry environment!!).
  4. Now put the rest of the canola in the pan and add the onions and curry. Add a teeny pinch of salt. Stir for a few minutes until the curry toasts, then add the eggplant. In a couple more minutes add the tomato and garlic. In yet a couple MORE minutes, add the coconut milk and the pepper rings. Add the amino acids. Taste—is it salty enough? If no, add a bit more.
  5. Simmer the mixture just for a few more minutes and you are ready to serve. Squeeze in the lime and taste—enough? If no, add the other half (I had a very juicy lime and only needed half). Turn off the heat. Stir in the tofu and the fresh herbs. Spoon over rice. Eat.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Berksbeekeeper
  • BoulderGalinTokyo
  • GipsyChef
  • gingerroot
  • jollygreenani

Recipe by: aargersi

Country living, garden to table cooking, recent beek, rescue all of the dogs, #adoptdontshop

36 Reviews

Andrea I. March 10, 2021
I finally got around to making this and it was delicious, but mine had no burning rings of fire at all. I used some chilies from the market here in Bangkok where I live, but apparently, I chose the ones without much fire at all, lol. Anyway, the real reason I am writing is because I seem to be the only one who did not see what to do with the tofu after you set it aside in the recipe. Do you stir it into the sauce at the end (as I did, since it was just sitting there)? Or do you put it on the rice and ladle the sauce over it to keep it more crispy? Anyway, just want to let you know, that step is missing.
aargersi March 11, 2021
Whoopsy! Yep, add it back in at the end. Recipe updated!
Andrea I. March 11, 2021
Thanks!! Also, just out of curiosity, do you slice or mince the garlic?
aargersi March 11, 2021
I actually crush the garlic (I’m lazy)
Ruth A. October 3, 2017
I have been experimenting with tofu as well. But I cheat a little more. I did exactly what you do for the tofu and veggies but if you have an Asian market near you, they have this canned product by Karee called curry paste: they have sour curry paste, yellow sour curry paste, etc. You get my drift. Anyway, they are amazing and just a can opener away from some really good stuff.They tend to be on the spicy side but hey, that is all good for us. I too add the coconut milk, any style I have on the shelf, and this I serve with raw chopped cashews and/or scallions/basil/mint on top. These cans are $1.30 a piece. I use one whole one for a recipe that feeds about 4 people. Just a thought for you.
susan October 2, 2017
chickpeas are a good substitute for tofu.
Berksbeekeeper March 18, 2015
Tonight was the second time I made this, Delicious! Can't always find the exact peppers called for but I use what I find at the market. Long green ones, short wide dark ones, short little red ones, beets me what they are called! Curry adds a great twist. Made it with a yellow squash tonight instead of eggplant, carries the flavors well. Will put this in the regular dinner rotation. It's so good! Thank you
emcsull August 21, 2014
where's the note about the chillies, please ?
aargersi August 21, 2014
Step 2!!!
emcsull August 21, 2014
oh right, thought you would elaborate on the difference between the kinds etc., never mind, can look that up somewhere. Thanks !
Nomnomnom July 5, 2013
Regarding the use of paper towels to dry tofu, here is the method I use: after removing from container and rinsing under water, put tofu block in a colander set over a bowl. Place a plate over the tofu and a weight (such as a canned good) on top. Allow to drain at least 30 minutes. Pour off extra liquid and use. Dry the outside with one towel, if necessary.
Vic L. September 8, 2012
Delicious dish, thanks so much for sharing. Next time spare the environment and drain your tofu on a bar mop.
BoulderGalinTokyo August 11, 2012
This picture is really great--gives a real anticipation of the flavors and textures in a great recipe. Thanks for beefing up the tofu selections!
GipsyChef April 15, 2012
This would be my next recipe to try. Looks delicious.
Eletta February 25, 2012
Suggestions on what to use instead of the eggplant? (It makes my tongue itch!)
spacemonkey February 25, 2012
I often use carrot, sweet potatoes, or pineapple. I put in water chestnuts and sometimes othe random vegetables I have lying about. Always good.
cranberry January 7, 2012
Just came across this recipe and will be trying it this week. I buy already-fried tofu at the market and will use that. Eliminates the draining and frying steps. I toss it in the wok to warm it up, often without additional oil.
elle.cid August 25, 2011
I just wanted to make a sugestion, since you seem so guilty there about the whole paper towel deal ;) In Asia we usually use newspapers to absorb excess oil, I do also find that a bit disgusting so what I do is make the top layer a paper towel with the newspapers under.
aargersi August 25, 2011
Great idea! I had this for dinner last night and used a LOT of paper towels ....
KingKelsey August 11, 2011
Delicious!!!! Though, I broiled my tofu instead of frying it in oil b/c I generally like the texture better and it's healthier.
spacemonkey August 9, 2011
made this for dinner last night: best curry and best tofu dish i've made in a while! It was super easy to put together and really tasted special. the flavors melded together great, and the peppers delivered a serious lode of spicy. thanks for posting! this is entering my collection of "go to" recipes. :)
aargersi August 10, 2011
Oh good! I am so happy it worked for you!!! Thank you for letting me know
gingerroot August 1, 2011
Some kind of spicy Asian curry is in our regular rotation...your version is definitely being added to it. Thanks!
jollygreenani July 28, 2011
I love, and wholeheartedly agree with the tag attached to this recipe!!
jollygreenani July 28, 2011
(And also love the recipe itself...).
checker July 27, 2011
...I fell in to a bowl of crispy tofu ... and it burned, burned, burned ... the crispy tofu... (I really hope someone out there gets that.)
lorigoldsby July 28, 2011
got it...even heard it w/ mr. cash's twangy drawl...
aargersi August 1, 2011
hee hee - just saw this and totally got it - that song played in my head all week last week!!!!
checker August 1, 2011
So glad people got it. I love that man. How about ... Your Best Recipe Inspired by a Song? I'd say we would have a winner here.
aargersi August 1, 2011
Oh I LOVE that idea!
EmilyC July 27, 2011
This looks really delicious, aargersi. I like tofu but never cook with it; this recipe may change my mind. Saved!
Midge July 26, 2011
Always looking to expand my tofu repertoire and I can't wait to try this!
lapadia July 26, 2011
Saved! A must try, thanks for sharing your recipe!!