Vietnamese Tofu Curry Recipe (Tau Hu Cari)

Vietnamese Tofu Curry Recipe (Tau Hu Cari) Recipe

Tàu hũ cari is a Vietnamese dish that I consider comfort food. It has a wholesome coconut taste and creamy texture that pair wonderfully with toasted baguette or freshly steamed jasmine rice. Traditionally though, lemongrass tofu curry is high in calories. I attempted to cut down on the heaviness without sacrificing flavor, so instead of using coconut cream, I used a combination of coconut soda and plain yogurt in addition to a generous amount of galangal.

If you try this recipe and enjoy it, you'll be happy to know that there are many other versions of Vietnamese curries. I included a potato dish in my upcoming book, Haute Potato, which you can preorder now from Amazon (shameless plug  ). The book will be out on December 18th and I really hope you get a chance to cook with it, learn from it, and share your experiences with me here on!


Yields: 8 servings

2 (12-ounce) packages firm tofu
10 tablespoons Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 fresh mangoes
1½ cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced
½ cup water chestnuts, sliced
1 teaspoon red chili powder, to taste
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon grated palm sugar, to taste
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 (2-inch) chunk galangal (or ginger)
1 large carrot, peeled, sliced and steamed
2 small kaffir lime leaves, torn in half
2 teaspoons lemongrass purée (see tips)
1 (12-ounce) can coconut soda
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ cup cashew nuts, coarsely chopped
¼ cup canola oil
2 tablespoons Thai basil, chopped
1 tablespoon cilantro, for garnish


Prepping the mangoes: Peel and pit the mangoes; gather the flesh and cut into 2" pieces.

Prepping the cashew nuts: Dry roast the cashews. Coarsely chop them. In a blender or mortar and pestle, grind 3 tablespoons cashew nuts and into a smooth paste.

Prepping galangal: Clean the root and remove any dirt. Peel the galangal with a paring knife (or the edge of a spoon). Grate about 2 tablespoons of galangal with a fine mesh Microplane. Thinly slice the rest, then cut into long matchsticks.

Preparing the tofu: Cut the tofu into 1" slices. In a wok, heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil. Pan-fry the pieces of tofu on both sides until golden. The tofu should have a nice fried outer crust and still be moist inside. Transfer the tofu onto paper towels. Once the tofu pieces are cool enough to handle, cut them into thirds. Set aside.

Assembly time:

In the same wok, heat more oil. Add the onion and cook on heat high until slightly golden. Lower the heat to medium-low and continue cooking until soft and tender, about 6 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Set aside.

In the same wok, add the garlic and galangal. Cook until slightly golden. Add the kaffir lime, red chili powder, lemongrass, turmeric powder, the grated galangal, nut paste and ¼ cup yogurt. Mix the thick paste for 30 seconds. Add the tofu, shallots, palm sugar, Thai basil and 1 can of coconut soda. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low. Scrape the caramelized bits from the bottom of the wok using a wooden spoon. Reduce (uncovered) the liquid by cooking for about 10 minutes. Add the remaining yogurt, carrots, mangoes, mushrooms and the reserved coarsely chopped cashews. Adjust seasoning of the gravy (if necessary) with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil one last time. Turn off the heat. Cover and let sit until you're ready to serve. Remove and discard the kaffir lime leaves (if possible).

Garnish with cilantro.

Pair the yellow tofu curry with jasmine rice or toasted baguette on the side.

Bon appétit!


One day, I was running out of coconut soda (you can find it in any Asian store), so I used Coke instead. It's probably not very authentic but it tasted just as good. I didn't any more sweetener to the curry sauce, though.

Coconut Soda Picture

For the lemongrass purée: Wash a stalk of lemongrass. Remove all the white powder from the leaves. Cut the stalk in half. Crush the younger part with the back of a chef's knife and set it aside (excellent for making broth). Cut the remaining stalk into extremely thin slices using a chef's knife. In a mortar and pestle, grind the thin slices of lemongrass, then transfer and mix everything using a mini food processor. It should turn into a fine moist powder. Set aside.

If you can't find galangal (it can be found in most Asian markets), use double the amount of ginger. Galangal is whiter in color than ginger but it's much more fragrant.

I used water chestnuts for a crisp, crunchy contrast with the thick curry sauce. You can find fresh water chestnuts or the canned version in most Asian stores.

Thai basil tastes very different from sweet basil. It imparts a strong, earthy fragrance to the dish .

All the ingredients listed above can be found in any Asian stores.

Before slicing the carrots, I carved 3 long sticks around the carrots to create star-shaped slices.

I make the same Vietnamese curry with added seafood such as shrimp, monkfish and baby squid. I love it!

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on September 6, 2012.


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