Andrea's Red Thai Coconut Curry in a Hurry

Servings: 4


  • 1 medium sweet potato (or yam – I LOVE garnet yams)
  • 1 bunch baby Bok Choy (or four leaves regular Bok Choy, sliced in half)
  • 1 12 oz. can coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, sliced 
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (I use like three times this amount, but I am unusually fond of garlic)
  • 1 yellow onion (Not Vidalia! Makes it too sweet, I’ve found), sliced or diced (doesn’t matter as long as they’re relatively big pieces, not minced)
  • 1 lb. mushrooms (usually I use shiitake or baby portobellos)
  • 2 tbsp. red curry paste (I use the standard Thai Kitchen stuff)
  • black pepper
  • kosher salt 

Optional Ingredients:

  • peanuts
  • sesame seed
  • crushed red pepper flake
  • lime 
  • parsley
  • sesame oil
  • red onion
  • peapods
  • green bell pepper
  • extra firm tofu


  1. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in large saucepan on medium heat. Toss in garlic, yellow onions slices, shallot, stirring occasionally. If you’re adding the peanuts, now is the time. The longer they cook in the pan, the tastier and crunchier they are at the end.
  2. While you wait for the garlic and onions to get glassy, cut the sweet potato into slices about a quarter of an inch thick – think au gratin potato slices. Turn oven to 375 degrees. Toss sweet potato slices in a tbsp. of olive oil until coated. Place on baking sheet and pop in the oven.
  3. 3. Once the onions and garlic are fragrant and giving up their liquid, toss in the mushrooms and the Bok Choy. Don’t worry about crowding, as you’re not trying to brown them, the curry itself will make them soft later. Keep stirring occasionally. If you’re adding green bell pepper, now is the time. At this stage, they’ll still be somewhat firm at the end if you add them now. And, if you’re adding tofu, now is the time. For best results, I like to let my extra firm tofu sit in a warm salted water bath for about a half hour ahead of cooking – it maintains its shape better in the pan during cooking that way.
  4. Add in a teaspoon of the red chili paste, and spread it around the pan. Let it simmer with the other ingredients for a minute or two.
  5. Check the sweet potatoes in the oven. They should be simmering, but not burning. Lower heat if you have to. The goal is firm, slightly crispy, but not potato chippy crisp. Turn heat down, if necessary.
  6. Shake the can of coconut milk to mix it. Open, and add to pan. Stir to coat all ingredients. If you’re adding delicate ingredients like peapods, parsley or cilantro, add them now.
  7. After stirring, wait for curry to bubble. Taste – maybe you like it hotter? I add a TON of chili paste, so definitely taste, taste, taste as you go. 
  8. Remove sweet potatoes from oven (remember to turn off the oven!), add to curry.
  9. The fun part! Garnish! This is when I add a little kosher salt, a LOT of black pepper, juice from half a lime, sesame seeds, a dash of sesame oil, crushed red pepper flake and thin slices from a red onion. 

Andrea Girolamo is the editor of and worked as the editor for Kitchen & Bath Design News magazine.