Thai veg curry and the vagaries of culling

Part of the Asian section (surely you knew a librarian’s daughter would have the books well-organized)

As a hedge against hoarding, Michelle’s cookbook space in Gourmandistan has been limited to specific spaces, mostly in the kitchen, though there have been slight containment breaches reported along a few isolated shelves elsewhere in the house and frequently around Michelle’s side of the bed. This means that every so often Michelle must purge her beloved panoply of chefs, cuisines and countries, assuring Steve he won’t face a future trapped under a collapsed column of cookbooks, and at the same time ensuring that there is room for new editions.

Somehow, Thailand: The Food and the Lifestyle (Food of the World), purchased on some long-ago sale table possibly when Steve was reviewing a Thai restaurant, withstood multiple episodes of winnowing—though until recently we never really understood why. Perhaps we liked the pictures and dreamed of visiting Thailand one day, or perhaps Michelle simply thought the height balanced our other remaining Asian volumes. One day we were searching for something to do with red curry paste and coconut milk, and the book offered up this simple stir-fry. While the original recipe calls for spinach and baby corn halves, we found it perfectly delicious with other veg such as bok choy, broccolini and carrots. And we’ve made it with and without tofu to good effect.

For the moment the volume has been returned to its shelf, where it no doubt sits among its slightly crowded shelf-mates, somewhat relieved that it may very well survive another cookbook cleansing.


(adapted from Judy Williams’ Thailand: The Food and the Lifestyle (Food of the World))

  • Neutral oil
  • 8 oz. firm tofu, drained, pressed and cut into cubes
  • 2-3 TB red curry paste
  • 13.5 oz. can coconut milk
  • 1 t. brown sugar
  • 2 TB soy sauce
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red chile, seeded and sliced
  • 3-4 celery stalks, diagonally sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
  • 1 small bunch broccoli or broccolini, cut into florets
  • 2-3 carrots,  peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2-4 c. bok choy, sliced cross-wise, leaves and stems separated

Heat oil in a wok and deep-fry tofu cubes in batches until brown and crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a rack or on paper towels.

Mix together curry paste, coconut milk, brown sugar and soy sauce.

Heat 1 TB of oil in a clean wok.  Stir-fry onions until starting to soften.  Add garlic and chile and stir-fry for a couple of minutes more.  Add vegetables except for the bok choy leaves and continue stir-frying for a couple of minutes more until vegetables are softened.

Add coconut milk mixture and gradually bring to a boil.  Add bok choy leaves.  Cook, stirring constantly, until leaves wilt.  Serve over rice, topped with tofu.

This week’s reading



  1. Valerie Timmons

    Yum! I love baby corn! I eat it like Tom Hanks’ character in ‘Big.’ (Seriously, I’ve been known to eat it straight out of the can.)

    • Oh, too funny. Well I know what to cook for you next time you come over! (Though, I have to say, that’s one thing I’ve never really developed a taste for. It’s the texture, I think, that puts me off.)

  2. I’d like to try this. Lots of flavors I love in here!

    I always wanted to visit Puket, but I wonder if it’s a big tourist trap. The ocean and beach just look so pretty.

  3. Kaitlyn

    What a beautiful dish! I was feeling Thai inspired for a dish later this week & you just helped me! I’ll have to let you know how it turns out 🙂

    • Thank you! It’s odd now that the only actual books I buy are cookbooks and travel books. I do think in the future I will miss going in peoples’ houses and learning about them by furtively checking out what is on their bookshelves!

  4. Gorgeous! I’m bookmarking this. As many Thai recipes as I hoard each has it’s own little twist that sounds even more delicious than the last. I can’t wait to try this one.

  5. Pingback: Let’s get it started. – jenny's lark

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