Jeff & Linda's Kitchen of Diversity

Potato and Tempeh Yellow Curry


One of the most useful aspects of tempeh is how easily it can substitute for mild flavored meat.  Here we adapt a traditional Thai yellow curry by swapping out chicken for tempeh.  The original dish is one of Thailand's favorite curries, and is notable for its savory curry flavor but lack of fierce chile heat.  This recipe makes four generous servings when served with a bowl of jasmine rice.

¾ cup coconut cream

¼ cup yellow curry paste

1 lb tempeh, cut into 1” cubes

4 cups coconut milk

2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into 2” cubes

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons Henderson's relish

2 tablespoons palm sugar

Salt to taste.

In a large casserole, gently heat coconut cream until it comes to a boil.   Cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it becomes fragrant and small oil spots begin to form on the cream surface.  Add curry paste and blend.  Cook for another 4 minutes.  Add tempeh and stir to coat evenly with the curry sauce.  Increase heat and add in coconut milk, potatoes, onion, Henderson's Relish, and palm sugar; stir well.  Let come to a gentle boil and reduce heat.  Simmer mixture until potatoes are tender.    Adjust seasoning, including more Henderson's Relish if desired.  Serve hot.


A few notes on ingredients are in order.  First, you'll find coconut cream, coconut milk, and Thai yellow curry paste at any oriental market.  You can make your own coconut cream and milk, and a number of directions exist explaining how, but frankly we've not found it worth the time and effort, especially when fresh coconuts are not readily available.  So, we opt for buying these canned.  Palm sugar is also available in eastern markets, but you can use light brown sugar as a replacement.

You can -- and should -- make your own yellow curry paste, as it is easy to make and will be so much more fresh and flavorful than any canned product.  We're not sharing the recipe here, though, as this really fits into a more general discussion of Thai vegetarian food, and we promise to do that at some point when we'll show you how to make not only yellow but green and red curry pastes as well.  For the moment, consider just buying this condiment pre-made and canned, or find a good recipe (we're particularly fond of the one described in Nancie McDermott's first cookbook, Real Thai).

Now about the Henderson's Relish.  We needed to find some sort of savory replacement for fish sauce.  Because of the similarity of this condiment to Roman garum, and thus to Worcestershire Sauce, we thought perhaps a good analog would be some type of vegan Worcestershire equivalent.  By far and away the best is Henderson's Relish, which has been made in Sheffield, England for well over 100 years.  It was perfect in this recipe.  This sauce is barely marketed in the UK outside of Yorkshire, and not at all outside of the country.  We became addicted to it when visiting fellow land snail ecologist Robert Cameron at the University of Sheffield, and we always bring back a bottle or two whenever we do.  We actually are within a tablespoon of using up our last stash, and with no potential trips to Sheffield in the offing, we're going to buy a liter from the Yorkshire Pantry, who will ship to the USA.  We'll likely do an entire month of blog posts revolving around Henderson's at some point. 

A good onion to use in this recipe is a sweet variety like Yellow Flat Dutch

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