This recipe for a vegan adaptation of a Thai red 'beef' curry features a thick, nutty, sweet, savory, with hints of sour, creamy Thai sauce that perfectly complements the fresh veggies.
It's easy to prepare using a slow cooker, but can also be easily cooked on the stove-top. Who needs take-out when you can impress your family and friends with this delicious homemade recipe?
For a delicious and easy-to-make Thai-inspired meal at home, serve this dish with fluffy rice, crunchy peanuts, fresh chili peppers, and coriander. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for an extra zing, and a few crispy mini poppadums for a satisfying crunch.
What is a Thai beef curry?
Thai red beef curry is a popular Thai dish made with beef, vegetables, and a spicy red curry sauce. Traditionally, the curry sauce is made with a blend of aromatic ingredients such as lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, and chili peppers, which are combined with coconut milk to create a creamy and flavorful sauce. The beef and vegetables are then simmered in the curry sauce until they are tender and infused with the bold flavors of the spices.
Quick origins of Thai red curry
The origins of Thai red curry can be traced back to the central region of Thailand, specifically the city of Ayutthaya, which was the capital of the Ayutthaya Kingdom from the 14th to the 18th century. Thai red curry is believed to have been influenced by Indian and Malaysian curries, which were introduced to Thailand by Indian and Muslim traders.
Vegan adaption of Thai beef curry
A vegan version of Thai red beef curry typically replaces the beef with plant-based protein options like beans, tofu, tempeh, seitan, soya curls, or textured vegetable protein (TVP). This hearty and flavorful dish is usually served with rice or noodles, making it perfect for warming up on chilly days or enjoying as a spicy comfort food any time of year.
For this recipe, I've used dried TVP chunks, which I love for their affordability and availability at most health food stores and supermarkets. With just a small amount of dried TVP, you can create a frugal yet satisfying vegan protein option. While TVP is relatively plain in taste, it's perfect for soaking up the flavors of the dish, resulting in a delicious and flavorful meal.
What is TVP?
Textured vegetable protein (TVP), also known as textured soy protein, is a plant-based protein made from defatted soy flour. It is produced by extracting the oil from soybeans and then heating and pressurizing the remaining soybean meal.
This process causes the proteins in the soybean meal to denature and form a fibrous, meat-like texture. The resulting product can then be flavored and seasoned and used as a substitute in a variety of dishes, including pies, stews and soups.
A good substitute for TVP is soya curls which are more commonly available in the US.
TVP is low in fat and calories, and is also a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, including iron and calcium so its a useful addition to plant-based and vegan meals.
For more easy vegan TVP recipes check out some of our family favourites:
Why use a slow cooker for Thai curry?
For a delicious veggie Thai curry, the slow cooker is the ideal cooking method. The gentle, longer cooking time allows for the development of delicious and complex flavors in the dish. Plus, using a slow cooker saves time and effort since there's no need for frequent stirring or checking on the curry as it cooks. Simply set it and forget it until it's time to add more ingredients or just dish it up and tuck in.
How to prepare slow cooker vegan Thai 'beef' curry
One of the things I love about this recipe is how quick and easy it is to prepare. With no need to chop onions, garlic, or other vegetables, the preparation time is significantly reduced. For this recipe, the stringless beans are simply sliced into one-two inch chunks, making it the only chopping required. Enjoy a delicious and satisfying meal without the hassle of extensive prep work.
First, soak the dried textured vegetable protein chunks within hot veggie stock.
Next, gather all your ingredients together and switch your slow cooker to the high setting.
Add the sliced green beans, dried green lentils, lemon zest, red Thai curry paste, soy sauce, vegan fish sauce [or replace with an extra tablespoon of soy sauce], brown sugar, peanut butter, coconut milk, bay leaf, and TVP chunks.
Add the vegetable stock that the TVP was soaking in, along with a few pinches or salt and pepper, and give it all a good stir.
Cook for 3 hours, and then add the bean sprouts. Stir and leave for another 30 minutes.
Optional: Enjoy garnished with fresh red chilli slices, fresh coriander [cilantro], and a few peanuts or cashew nuts [toasted nuts are extra tasty]. A few mini poppadoms are a tasty accompaniment.
Storage and reheating Thai curry
Store leftover curry for up to 3 days within the refrigerator or 3-4 months within the freezer.
To reheat leftover curry, place the curry into a non-stick pan and bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for a few minutes until piping hot.
Extra liquid can be added if required, a little oat or soya milk is a nice option, as is almond or coconut milk [although don't use canned coconut milk, the one in the carton intended for drinking is better as it is thinner than canned].
Stingless beans are similar to French beans and runner beans, and are commonly found in UK supermarkets.
These long, flat bean pods contain small green beans and have a fresh, nutty taste.
Unlike other types of bean and pea pods, stringless beans do not have a string running along the edge of the pod, making them quick to prepare and easy to eat.
They require minimal cooking and can even be eaten raw in salads for a crunchy and flavorful addition to a salad.
Snake beans, or Chinese long beans, are a type of legume commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine and are a great alternative to stringless beans.
They are long, thin, and cylindrical in shape, with a slightly sweeter and milder taste compared to traditional green beans. Their name may differ in other countries, with regional variations such as asparagus beans or cowpea beans.
Yard long beans are also a good replacement, as are ordinary green beans, sugar snap peas, and mangetout otherwise known as sugar peas or snow peas.
Although, if your alternative pea or bean pods have a stringy component then do remove this before adding to the recipe.
Of course. If you have a preference for a specific type of nut butter or have nut allergies, feel free to substitute peanut butter with your favorite nut butter or opt for sunflower or pumpkin seed butter instead.
This easy modification allows you to customize the dish to your liking while still maintaining the rich, creamy texture of the sauce.
Absolutely, although more vegetable stock will need to be added as the liquid will evaporate faster compared to the slow cooker which tends to retain the moisture.
To prepare on the stove-top first add an extra cup/250ml of stock to the recipe and add more stock whenever it looks like the curry will dry out. You want to end up with a nice thick creamy sauce.
The curry will be ready once the lentils are soft, and at this point the bean sprouts can be stirred through.
Remove the pan from the heat and pop a lid over the pan. Leave the pan for about 10 minutes and the bean sprouts will warm through in the residual heat. Enjoy!
More tasty easy vegan curry recipes:
Vegan Thai 'beef' Curry [slow cooker recipe]
- slow cooker [use a 3.5 litre / 3.5 quarts or larger]
- jug [for soaking TVP chunks]
- zester [for zesting lemon rind]
- 180 grams stringless beans [sliced into 1 ½-2 inch pieces]
- 70 grams dried green lentils
- 3 tablespoon red thai curry paste [use a vegan friendly paste]
- 100 grams peanut butter [crunchy version adds extra texture]
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon vegan fish sauce [or replace with an extra tablespoon of soy sauce]
- 3 tablespoon soft brown sugar [light brown sugar, or replace with 4-5 tablespoons of coconut or date sugar if preferred]
- 1 can coconut milk [400g/14-15oz can]
- 1 whole bay leaf
- 1 small-medium lemon [remove the zest with a zester or fine grater/shredder]
- 125 millilitres vegetable stock [make this up with the stock drained from the soaked soya chunks]
Add after 3 hours of curry cooking in slow cooker:
- 150 grams beansprouts [fresh sprouted mung beans] [can be found in the fresh stir-fry package section in most supermarkets]
Garnish, to taste, optional
- fresh coriander [cilantro], toasted or salty peanuts/cashews, lemon juice, fresh red chilli slices
- Add the dried TVP chunks to the boiling hot vegetable stock. Stir and leave to soak for about 30 minutes. Every now and then give the chunks a stir.100 grams dried soya chunks, 500 mililitres vegetable stock
- Preheat the slow cooker by switching it to the high setting while you add the ingredients.
- Add everything to the slow cooker: green lentils, coconut milk, stringless beans, red Thai curry paste, soy sauce, vegan fish sauce [or replace with an extra tablespoon of soy sauce], peanut butter, brown sugar, bay leaf, and lemon zest.180 grams stringless beans, 70 grams dried green lentils, 3 tablespoon red thai curry paste, 100 grams peanut butter, 1 tablespoon light soy sauce, 1 tablespoon vegan fish sauce, 3 tablespoon soft brown sugar, 1 can coconut milk, 1 whole bay leaf, 1 small-medium lemon
- Drain the TVP chunks from the soaking liquid but keep the vegetable stock. Add 125ml of the vegetable stock to the slow cooker. If you don't have enough just add extra water until you have 125ml [½ cup] of stock. [I drained 124ml of stock from the chunks so just required an extra 1ml of water!]125 millilitres vegetable stock
- Add the TVP chunks.
- Add a few pinches of salt and pepper. Give everything a good stir, breaking up the peanut butter into the sauce.
- Pop the lid onto the slow cooker and leave to cook for 3 hours.
- After 3 hours add the bean sprouts, stir well and leave to cook for a further 30 minutes.150 grams beansprouts
- Remove the bay leaf.Season to taste with salt, and add a little squeeze of fresh lemon juice if liked.
Serve: [optional suggestions]
- Enjoy with rice, and toasted or salty peanuts/cashews, a sprinkle of coriander [cilantro], and something crispy like poppadum's. A dollop of vegan mayonnaise or plain yogurt is a nice addition as are a few slices of fresh red chilli and/or sliced spring onions [green onions/scallions].
- Nutritional data provided is for guidance only and may vary based on individual ingredient choices.
- Nutritional data does not include garnish or side dishes.
- Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for 3-4 months.
- To reheat leftovers, place the curry in a non-stick pan and bring to a boil. Cook for 2-3 minutes until piping hot. Add extra liquid if the sauce is too thick; plant milk works well.
- Before serving, consider adding a few handfuls of fresh spinach to the curry and letting it wilt for a few minutes.
- This recipe uses Blue Dragon Thai curry paste [which I found in the local Co-Op supermarket]
- The fish sauce used is labeled as vegetarian but is also suitable for vegans.
- If veggie fish sauce is not available, you can add an extra tablespoon of light soy sauce instead.
- Any edible bean or pea pod vegetables are suitable for this recipe, including sugar snap peas, yard-long beans, green beans, and mangetout.
- If you have a peanut allergy or don't like peanut butter, it can be replaced with any other type of nut butter, or with sunflower or pumpkin seed butter.
- To prepare on the stove-top first add an extra cup/250ml of stock to the recipe and adding more stock whenever it looks like the curry will dry out too much. You want to end up with a nice thick creamy sauce. The curry will be ready once the lentils are soft, and at this point the bean sprouts can be stirred through. Remove the pan from the heat and pop a lid over the pan. Leave the pan for about 10 minutes and the bean sprouts will warm through in the residual heat. Enjoy!
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