Easy to Make Coconut Tofu Curry
This easy Coconut Tofu Curry featuring tofu (an approved low FODMAP soy food) is packed with flavor – and color! Doesn’t it look enticing? And the aromas will get you, too. The dish begins by sautéing cubed tofu in Garlic-Infused Oil until a bit crispy.
The tofu is set aside and the same skillet is used to make the curry sauce and cook the vegetables, which include carrots, tomatoes and baby bok choy. Fresh ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, a touch of sugar and the tang of limejuice round out the dish – along with low FODMAP curry powder and canned coconut milk. Basmati rice on the side is a perfect accompaniment, although sometimes we serve this with Asian style rice noodles.
Soy products can be a complicated FODMAP topic, which is why we have written about them in three articles, Soy Products – Low FODMAP or Not?, Soy and the Low FODMAP Diet and Are Soy Sauce and Tamari Low FODMAP?, which we encourage you to read.
You might find tofu on high FODMAP lists and low FODMAP lists – here’s why:
Tofu is made from whole soybeans, which are high in FODMAPs, but depending on how the soybeans are treated, the end results will vary in FODMAPs.
In the U.S., the two firmest tofu types are called “firm” and “extra-firm”. These terms are equivalent to the “plain” and “firm” tofu within the Monash University Smartphone App. Tofu is made similarly to cheese. There are soybean “curds”, which are pressed, draining away the whey. The more whey that is removed, the firmer the tofu will be and the FODMAPs drain away in the whey, away from the tofu. This is why these firmer tofu are allowed on the low FODMAP diet – even during the Elimination Phase.
Soft tofu, and “silken” tofu are made differently. Soymilk, made from whole soybeans and rich in FODMAPs, is coagulated to make these products. No pressing or draining of whey takes place, therefore these styles of tofu are high in FODMAPs. Neither if these styles of tofu are good for sautéing anyway!
Curry powder is a blend of spices – and some curry powders contain garlic, so read labels carefully. Low FODMAP blends are increasingly easier to find. I really like one made by Frontier Co-Op.
Use canned coconut milk, but you do have a choice of full fat or light, sometimes called “lite”. The latter is just a watered down version of the full fat, but I actually like it better in this dish. Having a can or two in the pantry is always handy.
Salty, Sweet, Sour, Umami
This dish is about balancing flavors. The sugar lends, sweetness, the fish sauce is salty and packed with umami, the limejuice is sour and the soy adds another layer of salty complexity. Different soy sauces and fish sauces will give you very different results. Taste your dish at the end and simply use your seasonings to balance the dish out with a little more of whatever yours might need.
To make a vegetarian or vegan variation, search out “vegan” fish sauce. It won’t contain anchovies, but it will have a complex salty taste due to its use of seaweed, however, reads the ingredient label for FODMAPs, such as garlic.
Coconut Tofu Curry
Our Coconut Tofu Curry is quick and easy enough to make on a weeknight and uses many low FODMAP pantry ingredients that you should be sure to stock, such as canned coconut milk, appropriate curry powder, soy sauce and fish sauce.
- 1, 14 to 16 -ounce (400 g to 455 g) block of extra-firm tofu
- 5 ounces (140 g) baby bok choy (this will be several small heads)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons Garlic-Infused Oil made with vegetable oil, or purchased equivalent, divided
- 1/2 cup (32 g) chopped scallions, green parts only
- 1 tablespoon low FODMAP curry powder such as Frontier Co-op
- 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
- 2 medium beefsteak tomatoes, cored and diced
- 3 medium carrots, peeled, stem end discarded, cut into large bite-size pieces on the diagonal
- 1, 14.5 ounce (403 ml) can lite coconut milk, well stirred
- 1/2 cup (15 g) fresh basil leaves, gently torn
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar
Cut the tofu block in half lengthwise. Place a triple layer of paper towel on a cutting board, place tofu slabs on top, then cover them with another triple layer of towel. Put something heavy on top, like another cutting board with a heavy pot on top. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes. This technique will remove excess water from the tofu so that it will fry up with a nice crisp outer texture.
While tofu is draining, prepare the baby bok choy. Trim and discard the root ends. Dunk each baby bok choy in a bowl of cool water and swoosh it around to dislodge any dirt. Dry thoroughly, patting dry with a clean dishtowel or paper towels. We usually leave the baby bok choy whole but if they are on the large-ish side, cut lengthwise in half; set aside.
Once tofu has drained, discard paper towels and cut tofu into cubes.
Heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat and add 1 1/2 tablespoons oil and heat until oil is shimmering. Add tofu and increase heat to medium-high. Cook undisturbed for a few minutes or until tofu is browned on the bottoms, then toss around and continue to cook until nicely browned. Remove from pan and set aside, keeping warm.
Add remaining 2 teaspoons of oil with pan over medium heat. Add scallions and sauté for about a minute or 2 until softened but not browned. Add curry powder and ginger and stir around for 30 seconds, then add the bok choy, tomatoes, carrots, coconut milk, basil, fish sauce, lime juice, soy sauce and sugar and stir everything around together well. Adjust heat and simmer for about 3minutes, then stir in tofu to coat with sauce and simmer for 5 more minutes or until heated through. Coconut Tofu Curry is ready to serve. We like it with basmati rice.
If You Can Tolerate
- Fructans: If you have passed the garlic fructans challenge, feel free to add a minced garlic clove or two along with the ginger.