A Christmas dinner idea that just walked into my mind when I was clearing out opened coconut milk one Friday. This straightforward East & West fusion recipe is hearty, tangy and spicy, topped with silky pan-fried tofu, a balanced main course idea for your Christmas dinner.
You can get packs of tom yum set spices from NTUC, which has just enough lemongrass, galangal, chilli, kaffir lime leaves, shallots, and lime for 2-3 uses. Tom yum paste here gives a base tangy & spicy flavour, while the fresh spices build on the fragrance. If you don’t have the paste or spice set, this recipe should still be tasty if you use only one of either. The tofu here is lightly seasoned as the main pasta has strong flavours.
Tom Yum Spaghetti with Pan-Fried Tofu
For spaghetti (serves 1):
- 1 serving of spaghetti pasta
- 1/2 – 1 tbsp tom yam paste (available from vegetarian grocery shops)
- 3 tbsp coconut milk
- 3-5 tbsp pasta cooking water
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp vegan belacan (optional, available from vegetarian grocery shops)
- 1/2 tsp minced ginger
- Few slices galangal
- 2-3 pcs kaffir lime leaves
- 1 stalk lemongrass, bruised with back of a knife and chopped into 2-3 parts
- 1 chilli padi, bruised with back of a knife
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- 1/3 of a carrot, julienned
- 2 pcs fresh shiitake mushrooms, cut thinly
- 1 spring coriander, for garnish (optional)
- Juice from 1/2 a lime, for garnish (optional)
Cook pasta according to packet instructions till slightly less than al dente. Run pasta under tap water for 10secs, drain and set aside, reserving some pasta cooking water. In a bowl, dissolve tom yam paste in coconut milk, pasta water and set aside. In a pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the vegan belacan, ginger, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and fry till fragrant. Add tomato, fry for 1 min till soft. Add carrot and mushroom, stir for 20 seconds. Add pasta together with the coconut tom yam paste mix. Lower heat to low-medium and simmer covered for 2-4mins, or till liquid is almost absorbed. Stir in lime juice if more tangy flavour is preferred. Remove lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and chilli before serving if preferred. Plate and garnish with coriander.
For pan-fried tofu (makes 8 pcs):
- 1 block silken tofu, suitable for pan frying type
- 1 tbsp oil
- Pepper, to taste
- Black salt, to taste
Heat oil over medium-high heat in a non-stick pan. Place tofu in gently. Cook over medium heat for 1 min on one side. Add a pinch of black salt and pepper and flip to cook the other side for 2 mins. Remove from heat. Serve beside the pasta.
To save time, cook the tofu while the pasta is boiling.
For tom yum spaghetti:
- A very flexible recipe, you can use any mushroom or veggies you like. Eg, long beans, cabbage, shiitake, king oyster etc.
- If you want to use thin, dark leafy veggies like spinach, add towards the end when pasta is simmering with the sauce.
- Pasta cooking water is used to make pasta sauces as the starch in the water makes a smoother sauce.
For pan-fried tofu:
- Extra pan-fried tofu keeps well in fridge for 5-7 days, depending on fridge temperature, thus is a great food prep item to make in advance.