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Red Sweet Potato Curry with tofu,bok choy, and caramelized shallots

January 10, 2011 | Tags: Deborah Madison , Food , Vegetables | Post comment

Red Sweet Potato Curry with tofu,bok choy, and caramelized shallots

My neighborhood market seems to have a lead on extra-small sweet potatoes whose size are ideal for this dish.  But if large tubers are what you have—and you no doubt will— cut them into long wedges or whatever shapes are pleasing to you. Syrupy mushroom soy sauce vastly broadens the flavor of the dish, turning the sauce a caramel-candy shade of brown.  

For wine, try a weighty Pinot Gris from Alsace with crisp acidity that can dance with the richness, sweetness, and spice in this dish.     

There are several small, uncomplicated steps in this dish. Start with the rice, then go to the sweet potatoes. While they’re steaming, cook the tofu, caramelize the shallots, and wilt the greens.  When all are done, bring them all together over a bowl of the rice.


Brown or white basmati rice
1 pound plus a little more small sweet potatoes, scrubbed
1 tablespoon roasted peanut oil
Sea salt
1 to 2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste, or more, to taste
1 15-ounce can coconut milk (lite is fine)
1 pound carton firm tofu, packed in water, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes
6 big shallots, peeled and sliced in rounds
few teaspoons mushroom soy sauce or San-J soy sauce
4 baby bok choy, cut lengthwise into sixths
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus branches for garnish
1 lime, quartered


1.  Start your rice.  Cut the sweet potatoes lengthwise into wedges about 3/4 –inch wide.  Steam them over boiling water until tender, about 20 minutes.

2.  Heat the coconut milk with a cup of water in a wide skillet.  Stir in the chile paste and chopped cilantro.  Add the cooked sweet potatoes and lower the heat.

3.  Meanwhile, put the tofu in a non-stick skillet in a single layer, over medium heat.  Cook until the water has evaporated and the tofu is golden, adding a little oil for flavor and to give it a crisp surface. Season with salt, douse with a few teaspoons mushroom soy sauce, and shuffle the pan until the sweet potatoes are evenly coated and dark lustrous brown.  Add the tofu to the sweet potatoes, wipe out the pan, and return it to the heat.

4.  Add 2 teaspoons of the peanut oil to the pan.  When hot, add the shallots. Season with salt and cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden.  Set aside.  Simmer the bok choy in salted water until tender, 4 to 5  minutes, then remove and toss with 1 teaspoon peanut oil.

5. Serve the sweet potatoes and their sauce over rice, garnished with the bok choy, shallots, cilantro sprigs and lime wedges.

Sweet Potato Curry with Tempeh:  In place of the tofu, steam one or two blocks of tempeh for 15 minutes, then cut them into thin rectangles and brown them in roasted peanut oil on both sides before adding them to the sauce.

Serves 4 generously