a dish to put hair on your chest

(I apologize for the title of this post. I can’t keep talking about chest hair and toe smell when I’m writing about food.)

Something I’ve learned in my long 19 years on earth is that pain is not the opposite of pleasure. People enjoy putting themselves through pain all the time: the soreness of a good workout, for example. Some of us even decorate our bodies with displays of it (seven piercings and two tattoos, and no, I don’t regret them, thank you). And, of course, there is spicy food. Most of us have, at one point, begged a waiter at a Thai restaurant to make a dish as spicy as possible despite their intimidating hesitance. We’ve all caught ourselves literally sweating through a meal, our taste buds singed, but still determined to earn the honor of declining a to-go box, clean plate in hand. Eating spicy food is more than a meal: it’s a challenge.

Which is why I was sorely disappointed when I found a curry recipe the other day, made it, and realized after the first bite that there was no heat whatsoever. The flavor was delicious, and it’s definitely a recipe I’d make again (adapted with more spice, of course, and with a bottle of Sriracha in hand). But after eating an entire bowl and not shedding a single tear, I was determined to produce a curry with a LOT more pain involved… a curry that was unforgiving, unapologetic, and unrelentingly delicious.

After consulting my mom for our “family recipe” for curry (she emailed me a link to a recipe website), I made some changes and went to work. Here’s what you need:

Red curry paste, tofu, coconut milk, a potato, a tomato, and half an onion... PLUS an extra potato and 3 tbsp. sugar. I didn't realize how badly I needed it at first, but trust me, after tasting the curry for the first time, you'll want that extra potato to diffuse some of the heat.

Start by heating a can of coconut milk until it’s about to boil (but don’t let it boil!) and then add a few minced cloves of garlic and 3-4 tbsp. of red curry paste (more or less to taste. This is the heat in the recipe, so don’t get too crazy). Let cook over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, dice up a block of firm or extra-firm tofu and fry it in a tbsp. of olive oil over medium-high heat.

Add the diced onion and let it cook for a few minutes.

Microwave each potato for about 2:30 and cut it up. Stir in the diced tomato, diced potato, 3 tbsp. sugar, and red pepper flakes (optional).

Stir in the tofu. Tofu really gets a bad rap around non-vegetarians, but really it’s not bad. A little mushy, yes, but firm and extra-firm tofu is a healthy addition to almost any dish. Plus it looks pretty delicious here:

Once the tofu is heated throughout, serve with rice.

This is a good curry for curry-beginners: it’s Thai, so there’s no curry powder (a taste that some don’t really like). And it’s beyond spicy and incredibly flavorful. There aren’t any bizarre ingredients, and you can make it with chicken instead of tofu if that’s your style. But approach this meal with caution, a glass — nay, pitcher — of ice water, and the knowledge that the dish you are about to consume is not for sissies.

P.S. If you don’t have any curry paste on hand, this recipe is about $10 (the curry paste alone is about $4. Your next curry recipe will be much cheaper). Also, this recipe is terribly, annoyingly close to be vegan, but in actuality is not even vegetarian. The curry paste has trace amounts of fish (and when I say trace amounts, I mean trace amounts). Other than that, it’s vegan. You can get around this by making your own red curry paste (there are several recipes just waiting to be googled). That said, does anyone know of any vegan brands of curry paste?


7 responses to “a dish to put hair on your chest

  1. Pingback: a recipe for your first kitchen | The First Kitchen·

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