Shriveled green beans, red pepper and tofu in thai roasted chili paste

August 4, 2008 at 5:52 am (B_, Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Summer recipes, Tofu, Vegetable dishes)

This is a tasty summertime recipe that’s very quick to make (if you already have the chili paste made).  Just put on your rice a little while before you start prepping, and by the time it’s done dinner will be ready.

  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into thin rings
  • large bag of green beans (1 pound?), stemmed and long beans broken in half, washed, and dried well
  • 1 Tbs. palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 – 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 pound medium-firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 Tbs. coarsely chopped garlic (4 to 6 cloves, optional)
  • 2 Tbs. thai roasted chili paste
  • 1 Tbs. water
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed Thai basil, ribboned
  1. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed 9-inch skillet over high heat.  When hot, add the red onion, stirring frequently until just beginning to soften, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the green beans, keeping the heat on high.  Next add the sugar and salt, and mix well. Stir constantly, until the green beans start to brown and shrivel up a tad, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, red bell pepper, the tofu, the chili paste, and the water, and gently stir to combine.  Cover, turn heat to medium-low, and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, until the red pepper is shiny and beginning to wilt.
  4. Sprinkle with the ribboned basil, and serve immediately, with brown rice.

Serves 3-4 as a one-dish meal, with brown rice.


The green beans will be slightly shriveled and brown with this recipe–adding the salt and sugar early on helps draw out the moisture, and carmelizes the sugar.  To make them even more like the green beans served in a Chinese restaurant, I want to try either pre-salting them, or roasting them in the oven briefly before stir-frying them.

The Thai basil is really essential: it adds add a fresh bright floral note on top of the tangy explosive sauce.  If you can’t find Thai basil perhaps try substituting regular basil or mint.

Cutting the tofu into very large cubes helps keep them from breaking up too much, and adds visual appeal.  Make sure to use a Chinese-style tofu that’s firm but not too firm.  Many of the brands available in organic stores in Montreal and Germany were hard as a rock, and sour, and would be awful in this dish.  If the tofu doesn’t taste good raw, leave it out.

If your sauce is really fiery, you’ll want to serve this with a refreshing beverage, like tamarind juice or iced tea or ginger lemonade.

Rating: B

Derek Rating: A-


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