My boyfriend and I just call this dish “Thai Tofu.” Even though it is completely inauthentic, it is easy and delicious! It is a horribly bastardized and cheapened version of “Thai Tofu with Red Curry Sauce over Coconut-Scallion Rice” from Didi Emmons’ cookbook Vegetarian Planet (which though it has a fair amount of dairy/egg recipes, is really excellent).
For the coconut rice I still basically follow the actual original recipe. This time around I cut all the quantities in half because I didn’t want leftovers (it doesn’t reheat very well!). So, take 3/4 cups white rice (preferably jasmine, basmati, or other long-grained), half a can of coconut milk, 1 1/4 cups of water, and a pinch of salt. Mix it together in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, reduce the heat to very low. Cover and let it simmer for about 20 minutes while you’re doing the rest of the prep (keep an eye on it and give it a stir once in a while). Once the rice is soft, add three chopped scallions and stir.
Although the original sauce recipe included cilantro, garlic, peanuts, and chile paste, this simplified version contains just three ingredients- lime juice, peanut butter, and chile paste (aka “rooster sauce” in my household!). I think I invented this version when I wanted to make this dish for dinner and discovered that I didn’t have cilantro or peanuts on hand, and just improvised instead since I didn’t feel like making another trip to the store.
I never actually measure anymore, just scoop out maybe 1/2 cup each of peanut butter and chile paste, and juice half of a lime into a bowl. Mix it all up, and add a little water if it’s too solid. It should not be too spicy, too peanutty, or too limey. You can always add more of one of the ingredients until you like the flavor.
Since I just wanted a small batch of this, I only used half a block of tofu. It doesn’t look like much but it’s enough for two people!
This is a dish where the tofu benefits from a good pressing before cooking. Just slice it in half, wrap it up in paper towels, and put it under something heavy while you’re getting the rice ready. I like using my cast iron skillet.
Pressing tofu squeezes out some of the excess moisture and makes it fry up better. I just pan fry it in a bit of oil until golden on both sides, then set it aside on a paper towel to soak up some of the extra oil.
Once the tofu is done, it’s time to cook the broccoli. To keep things simple, I just chop it up and cook it in the same pan that I cooked the tofu in. I add a little water, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Cook the broccoli until it is just tender and bright green. If there is a little water left in your pan it’s ok!
Once the broccoli is ready, just leave it in the pan. Add the tofu back in, and add your peanut sauce too. This is why it’s ok to have water still in the pan- it will mix with the sauce. Stir everything around until the tofu and broccoli are more or less evenly coated and everything is hot.
I’ve found that if you want to make food look fancy, just use a circle mold for plating. I have also made domes of rice by first putting it into a small bowl and then turning it upside down onto the plate. This coconut rice is nice and sticky so it holds shapes really well. I think you can buy fancy circle molds in kitchen supply stores, but any cylindrical thing with open ends will do. I think this plastic thing I use used to be a part of some other kitchen thing that fell apart.
And voila! Top with some crushed peanuts and add some dollops of chile paste if you like, and you’re done!