Big Curry Noodle Pot

December 30, 2011

Randy and I used to get Thai food almost every Friday night for dinner.  Or at least every Friday night that wasn’t a date night.  It was our wind-down from a long week, a break from cooking for me, and something we both enjoyed.  Seattle has great Thai food and there are five or six places nearby that we like.  After a few years of this tradition, I started to feel like the food tasted great but I could just see how unhealthy it was.  The oil slick in the bottom of the noodles dish, the coating on my tongue from the curry.  Tasty but not healthy.  And so, we opted for other food on Friday nights, namely my cooking.

Earlier this week, Graham had surgery for a hernia.  It sounds bad but the truth is that children recover surprisingly quickly from this type of surgery.  He has had one other operation, an umbilical hernia repair.  This was an operation to repair his belly button which was sticking out more than normal – really a cosmetic procedure.  So now, at the grand old age of seven, he has had the same number of surgeries as his 41-year old mother.  (I’ve had 2 c-sections.)

Because the doctors and nurses were so blasé about the surgery and how quickly it would be over and how well he would do, I planned to make dinner.  But of course they did not start on time and the operation took an hour instead of a half, and they kept him in recovery longer because he was having pain.  (The recovery room nurse asked him how he was feeling and he said, “I would feel better if my penis didn’t hurt so much.”)  I got to go back in the OR with him to hold his hand while they put him under with strawberry scented gas and watching his little eyes flutter closed broke my heart.  It became clear, on the eventual drive home, that take-out was our dinner option.  It had been so long since our last Thai dinner that I thought it sounded good.  And it was good.  But after a few bites, I remembered why we stopped our regular practice.  I carefully picked my noodles out of the slick and decided that this was a once in a while treat.

I love those flavors and I love that food, but I don’t love the grease or the stomach ache I often get after eating it.  I have an ever rotating line up of Asian noodle dishes that I love and I’m happy to add this Heidi Swanson recipe to the roster.  Normally I use rice noodles but I appreciated a bit more heft from the wheat based udon noodles in this dish and the sauce was drinkable.  Seriously.  I tweaked a bit.  I added cilantro to the cooked sauce, I sautéed the shallots to almost burnt for the garnish because I don’t like members of the onion family to be raw.  I added a bit less liquid and then second-guessed myself.  All the things you do with a good recipe to make it more to your taste.  Delicious.

 One Year Ago:  Hearty Beans and Rice and Butternut Squash and Cashew Curry
Two Years Ago:  EggNog Pound Cake with Crystal Rum Glaze and Chickpea, Lentil, and Vegetable Stew
Three Years Ago:  Penne with Greek-Style Vegetable Marinade

Big Curry Noodle Pot
Adapted from Super Natural Cooking
Serves 3-4

2 tbsp. coconut oil or vegetable oil, divided
2 medium shallots, sliced into thin rings
Kosher salt
8 ounces dried Asian style wide noodles, such as udon
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. Thai red curry paste
12 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into thumb-sized slices
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1½ cups water
2 tsp. ground tumeric
2 tbsp. shoyu sauce, or other soy sauce
1 tbsp. light brown sugar
Juice of 1 lime
¼ cup peanuts, chopped
½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped, divided

Place a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of the coconut or vegetable oil, then add the shallots.  Allow to cook undisturbed until golden brown on the underside, about 3 minutes.  Flip over and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until very brown.  Tip out onto a paper towel lined plate and season with salt.  Set aside.

Return saucepan to the burner and reduce heat to medium.  Add the other tablespoon of oil and then add the onions.  Cook for five minutes, then add the garlic and red curry paste.  Mash the paste around in the pan to distribute it evenly.  Cook until nice and fragrant, just a minute or two.  Add the tofu and gently stir until coated with the curry paste.  Stir in the coconut milk, water, tumeric, soy sauce, and sugar, bring to a simmer, and simmer gently until the sauce gets nice and thick, about 20 minutes.  Stir in half the cilantro leaves and the lime juice.

Meanwhile, cook the noodles in plenty of salted water according to the package directions.  When they are just shy of done, use tongs to transfer them directly to the saucepan with the curry sauce.  Stir in the lime juice.  To serve, heap big piles of noodles into individual bowls and top with a generous ladle of the sauce.  Top with peanuts, shallots and the remaining cilantro.


  1. Dana, this looks amazing, Thai is probably my favourite kind of food, after Italian. I received Heidi’s new cookbook for Christmas and have been pouring over it ever since- I can’t wait to try so many of the dishes!

    Hope Graham is feeling better by now! xo

    Comment by Ele — December 30, 2011 @ 4:57 pm

  2. This looks so tasty. Can you tell me how spicy is the red curry paste? I have yellow curry paste in my pantry. Would that work?

    Comment by linda — December 30, 2011 @ 5:55 pm

  3. Good question Linda. The red curry paste I had is pretty spicy by itself but I didn’t feel that the dish had much spice. I would have preferred more actually! Yellow curry would be totally fine. If you are concerned about spice, just add one teaspoon and taste it once the coconut milk has been added, then add more to taste.

    Comment by dana — December 30, 2011 @ 5:58 pm

  4. I want a big bowl of this! Happy New Year to you and your family. So glad I will be seeing you in 2012:) xoxo

    Comment by Maria — December 30, 2011 @ 6:24 pm

  5. We cook at home the majority of the time, but when do splurge it’s often on Thai take out! But I agree with you, we almost always regret it after the fact. This noodle dish looks amazing, I can’t wait to try it! Hope Graham recovers quickly! Happy New Year!

    Comment by Emily — December 30, 2011 @ 8:03 pm

  6. Yay for curry! I have been really excited to see your latest Thai & Indian curry posts because they are what I want to get much better at cooking! (For the same reasons you write about. The only take-out we get semi-regularly is thai and indian, but oh my, the sauces are rich.) This one will be on next week’s dinner list, for sure! I’m so glad Graham is doing ok, too. Poor guy. Nobody enjoys a catheter! :(

    Comment by Kathleen — December 30, 2011 @ 10:35 pm

  7. I’m so glad Graham is doing okay! Such a brave boy.

    (You should know that for a doctor-to-be I’m quite skittish about any and all operations. Especially C-sections.)

    Thai food is my absolute FAVORITE kind of food. But I’ve stopped ordering it also for similar reasons. Now, if I could only learn to cook it authentically…

    I’m working on it. Can’t believe I haven’t made this Heidi recipe yet! It’s happening. Soon.

    Comment by Joanne — December 31, 2011 @ 1:24 am

  8. Oh my gosh I do love your son and his honesty!!
    And can I tell you, that comment you made on my facebook post? Yeah that one. I wrote down exactly what you said, and stuck on my computer to remind me every hour. So thank you for that. Of course everyone had great answers/rec’s/etc…but yours rang true.
    Happy New Year to you too. You’re a good person, only wish I lived closer to you so we could go out and just chat (and eat).

    Comment by vanillasugarblog — December 31, 2011 @ 2:15 am

  9. Any ideas for a coconut milk sub? I have (so sadly) developed a coconut allergy and all the delish Thai curries I used to devour are off limits now.

    Comment by DVS — December 31, 2011 @ 3:07 am

  10. My hunch is that you could just vegetable stock instead of the water and coconut milk. Start with 4 cups of it. Then, a few minutes before you are going to serve it, add about a 1/2 cup of regular cream. The subtle coconut flavor will be missing, but you will still have creaminess.

    Comment by dana — December 31, 2011 @ 11:53 pm

  11. Dana, sorry to hear about Graham. Hoping he recovers quickly for both of you! ;)

    I really wish we had a Thai place that would deliver to our new house. We have one we love that is a 10 minute drive but sometimes it is nice to pick up the phone and answer the door! I need to work on my tofu fear and whip up this recipe this year. It sounds amazing, and I love the photos!! Miss ya! xoxo

    Comment by Chez Us — January 1, 2012 @ 12:29 am

  12. […] get inspired by food blogs like Dana Treat and 101 Cookbooks! I mean really, how amazing does this Big Curry Noodle Pot and Green Lentil Soup with Curried Brown Butter look? […]

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  13. Such an approachable curry, just what I like! Slowly but surely, you’re easing me into Thai cooking at home!

    Comment by Clara — January 2, 2012 @ 3:31 pm

  14. So funny! Our Friday night is Thai take-out too and we always get the red curry with vegetables (no noodles), but I’d love to make this. So glad that Graham’s surgery was swift!

    Comment by kickpleat — January 4, 2012 @ 7:41 am

  15. I love your blog and your recipes! This is one of my favorite food sites of all. Question: I made this last night and it smelled fantastic, but the flavor was a little lacking and the broth was kind of thin even though I simmered for more than 30 minutes. I used lite coconut milk–could this have been a major mistake? I don’t cook with coconut milk often so I’m not too familiar with it.

    Comment by Sarah — January 5, 2012 @ 4:44 am

  16. This is such a great question Sarah. In all my coconut milk using life, I have almost always used lite coconut milk. I just couldn’t justify the extra fat and calories when I think lite is still pretty good. Then a friend invited me over for dinner and made a delicious butternut squash curry, used full-fat coconut milk, and I was SHOCKED at the difference in flavor and texture. I will still use lite most of the time but it really does add a tremendous amount of oomph to use the real stuff. If you make this again using lite, and I will try it next time, decrease the amount of water to 3/4 cup and add more as needed if the broth is too thick. Lite coconut milk has a lot more water to it so chances are yours just needed more fat and less liquid. If you do try it again, let me know what you think.

    Comment by dana — January 5, 2012 @ 4:50 am

  17. Thanks for the quick response! I will try it again and see how it goes with regular coconut milk or else with less water.

    Comment by Sarah — January 5, 2012 @ 5:05 am

  18. Love dishes like this. It looks delicious. :)

    Comment by Ashley — January 6, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

  19. […] Big Curry Noodle Pot as found on Dana Treat’s Blog Her’s looks tastier than mine did, and probably was, […]

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  20. […] January 25: Crockpot Salsa Chicken (Kraft Canada) Saturday January 26: Leftovers Sunday January 27: Big Curry Noodle Pot (Heidi Swanson/Dana […]

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  21. I made this a few months ago and came back to make it again. I always leave a comment when I find a good recipe but realised I hadn’t. So here goes, this was really good :) The ingredient list is quite long but as always with curry, every single spice adds something. I used chicken instead of tofu and the result was absolutely delicious!! Thanks for sharing :P

    Comment by Marilin — April 14, 2013 @ 7:05 pm

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