Penang-Style Pork with Soft Tofu

Chef Cathal Armstrong packs this deeply flavorful, very spicy curry with tender pork and tofu and tops it with crispy garlic. Slideshow: Pork Tenderloin Recipes 

Penang-Style Pork with Soft Tofu
Photo: © John Kernick
Total Time:
1 hrs



  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mace

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Korean chile flakes (gochugaru)

  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger

  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped lemongrass, tender inner bulb only

  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped

  • 1/2 teaspoon Asian shrimp paste (see Note)


  • Canola oil, for frying

  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced


  • 12 ounce pork tenderloin, sliced crosswise 3/4 inch thick

  • Kosher salt

  • Pepper

  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger

  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic

  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot

  • 1 teaspoon minced Thai chile

  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

  • 6 tablespoons prepared Penang curry sauce

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water

  • 8 ounces soft tofu, cut into 1/2-inch dice

  • Steamed jasmine rice, for serving

  • Cilantro, for garnish


Make the spice paste

  1. In a spice grinder, pulse the coriander and cumin until coarsely ground; transfer to a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and puree until a smooth paste forms.

Make the crispy garlic

  1. In a nonstick skillet, heat 1/4 inch of canola oil. Add the garlic and fry, stirring, until golden and crisp, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the oil in the skillet.

Make the pork curry

  1. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Cook in the skillet over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned, 2 minutes per side. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and quarter each slice. Add the ginger, garlic, shallot, chile and spice paste to the pan and cook over low heat, stirring, until very fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, curry sauce and soy sauce and bring to a simmer. Whisk in the cornstarch slurry and bring to a simmer, then add the pork and tofu and cook just until the sauce thickens, 2 minutes.

  2. Spoon rice into bowls and top with the curry. Garnish with the crispy garlic and cilantro.

Make Ahead

The spice paste can be refrigerated overnight.


Southeast Asian shrimp paste is made with fermented ground shrimp. Look for it at Asian markets.

Suggested Pairing

Wine: Cru Beaujolais.

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