You don't need to be a celebrity to get involved in Celebrity MasterChef tonight! Providing us all with the perfect meat-free recipe of a butternut squash and tofu red curry, judge John Torode has enabled us to kill two birds with one stone this evening by attempting meat-free Monday with a Masterchef theme - who said multitasking was hard, eh?
John says: ‘The red curry, in my opinion, is the richest and most satisfying to make of all the curries. It is the flavour of Thailand in one addictive sauce. The process of cooking out the paste, then adding the palm sugar and cooking again until the paste becomes baked terracotta-red, rich, fragrant and the consistency of jam, is paramount for a really red curry.’
BUTTERNUT SQUASH RED CURRY WITH TOFU
Serves 4-6, Preparation time 20-25 minutes, Cooking time 45-50 minutes
• 1 medium butternut squash
• 300g/11oz firm tofu
• Vegetable oil, for frying
• 150g/1/4pt red curry paste
• 125g/4 1/2oz creamed coconut
• 2 x 400ml tins coconut milk
• 40g/1 1/2oz palm sugar
• 4 lemongrass stalks, bruised
• 12 lime leaves, torn
• 4 thumb-sized pieces of galangal, roughly chopped
• 1 tbsp fish sauce (or add a vegetarian fish sauce substitute or 1 tsp salt)
• Fried Garnish (see below)
• 1 fresh red chilli, sliced (optional)
1. Peel and deseed the butternut squash, then cut into large hunks the size of golf balls. Cut the tofu into similar-sized pieces. Set both to one side.
2. Heat a little vegetable oil in a medium saucepan then add the curry paste and cook for a minute or so. Add the creamed coconut and the creamy layer from the top of the tins of coconut milk and cook over a medium heat for 5-6 minutes – it will start to colour and smell of roasted coconut, but watch that it doesn’t burn.
3. Now add the palm sugar, reduce the heat and cook gently for about 5-10 minutes, stirring until it is rich red in colour and no longer smells raw. The oil will separate from the mixture and then gradually start to come back together as the mixture thickens and darkens. Be careful not to let it burn.
4. Add the prepared squash pieces and stir well so that the paste coats them all, cook for a couple of minutes, then pour in the
coconut milk and 200ml water and bring to the boil. Drop in the lemongrass, lime leaves and galangal, add half the fish sauce, then reduce the heat and simmer gently, uncovered, for 10-12 minutes. Stir in the tofu and simmer gently for a further 10 minutes.
5. To finish, season with extra palm sugar if it’s too spicy, or the remaining fish sauce if it’s a little bland. The sauce should taste sweet, hot and just slightly salty.
Dress with some fried garnish (see below) and the sliced chilli and serve immediately.
This recipe comes from John Torode's book, Sydney to Seoul (published by Headline Home, priced £27) where John embarks on a food odyssey creating delicious recipes that combine his straightforward Aussie cooking with the fantastic flavours of the Far East.