Photo: Annabelle Breakey
Total Time
50 Mins
Serves 4

Santa Cruz, California, cookbook writer and cooking teacher Andrea Nguyen based this fragrant, creamy coconut-milk curry on one from James Syhabout's Hawker Fare, in Oakland. Use asparagus or green beans instead of bok choy if you like, and serve it with steamed jasmine rice—or a warm baguette.

How to Make It

Step 1

Cut tofu into 16 rectangles shaped like husky dominoes (each about 1 in. wide, 1 1/2 in. long, and 1 in. thick). Put tofu in a wide, shallow bowl. Mix 1 tsp. salt with 2 cups very hot or just-boiled water and pour over tofu to just cover. Let sit 15 minutes. Transfer tofu to a double layer of paper towels set on a plate and let drain 10 minutes.

Step 2

Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp. oil in a medium nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Fry shallots, stirring occasionally, until light golden, 9 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and curry leaves and fry 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until light and crisp. Add curry powder, remove from heat, and stir to aromatize spices. Using a slotted spoon or skimmer, transfer seasonings to a bowl, leaving most of fragrant oil in pan.

Step 3

Blot tofu dry. Add more oil to pan, if needed, to film bottom and heat to medium-high. Fry tofu, turning once, until golden, 4 to 5 minutes (it won't be crisp).

Step 4

Lower heat slightly and return all but 1 tbsp. shallot mixture to pan. Add coconut milk, bamboo shoots, and palm sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add bok choy and cook until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Gently stir in fish sauce.

Step 5

Transfer to a serving bowl and top with herbs and rest of shallots. Serve with rice.

Step 6

*Find curry leaves at Indian markets. Palm sugar—a dark unrefined sugar made from palm-tree sap or sugarcane juice—has a musky, slightly molasses-like flavor. It usually comes in hard discs; slice off shavings with a sharp knife before measuring. Find it at well-stocked grocery stores and Asian or Latino markets (in Indian markets, it's called jaggery, and in Latino markets, piloncillo).

Ratings & Reviews

Galbanolli's Review

August 04, 2014

Kvavava's Review

December 19, 2013

MissAnne's Review

March 02, 2013

LSReagan's Review

March 19, 2012
Agree with other reviewer -- needs to be kicked up a notch. I added sliced brown mushrooms, perhaps a cup of finely sliced red onion in lieu of the shallots, 2 heaping tsps. curry powder, a few more curry leaves, finely diced fresh ginger and quite a bit more fish sauce (to taste). Used a lot more chopped cilantro and mint than the recipe suggests, and finished it off with the juice of 1/2 a lime. We found it delicious over brown/wild rice mix. A keeper for us.

udaniohana's Review

February 29, 2012
I added an extra 1/2 tsp of curry powder but it probably needs a little extra kick of something too--maybe some cayenne? I'll definitely try it again and just kick it up a notch.

LEdgar1's Review

February 21, 2012
This dish was so bland...tasted nothing like I had hoped. I would not make this again or recommend this recipe. We made it completely according to instructions.