Hello! It’s been a while since I posted a recipe! I’m sorry about that, I haven’t been cooking much. But I’m back! So anyway, Marinated Tofu Lettuce Wraps! If the word tofu makes you nervous, bear with me, this is a good starter recipe. Really, I swear! Anyway, before I get to the recipe I want to tell you where it came from. My husband has a not so secret loathing for chain restaurants. I’m not really quite sure why he feels so strongly about this, I think it might stem from an unpleasant New Year’s Eve trip to Bennigan’s, but try to take him to an Olive Garden or TGI Fridays and he will be very grumpy. I guess it’s just his thing and that’s cool, I still love him just as much. But he does have a secret love affair with PF Chang’s. I mean I certainly can’t blame him, it’s delicious. Have you ever tried the Great Wall of Chocolate? (best silly restaurant food name EVER!)
Anyway, we rarely go anymore. One reason being the only one near us in the giant touristy one in the middle of downtown Chicago which is just generally not very pleasant. And the other is, of course, O’s nut allergies. Chinese is not something we’re comfortable with eating. But when we used to go, one of our favorite things was the vegetarian lettuce wrap appetizer. Now I’m not going to claim this recipe will taste like that. It’s probably not really even close. But it is inspired by it and it is tasty so I’m ok with that.
If you’ve never tried tofu this is a good place to start. I don’t think there is anything else that strikes fear into the hearts of non-vegetarians more than the word tofu. (Ok, well maybe tempeh or seitan…) But still. I don’t know if they think it’s going to taste bad or be rubbery or something? I have no idea. I mean a plain slab of tofu is not the best thing in the world to eat. But one of the things I like most about tofu is the ability to flavor it yourself! Marinating is a good way to do that. And if you sear it, it gets a nice texture as well. Oh! And have I mentioned this recipe is low carb and vegan? So if you’re into either or both, give it a try!
Marinated Tofu Lettuce Wraps
I package of firm tofu
2 small or one large head of butter lettuce (iceberg would work in a pinch)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup water
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp ground ginger
pinch of red pepper flakes
Half of one onion
Half on one bell pepper
two ribs of celery
handful of peapods
1. First take your tofu out of the package and lay it out on the bottom of a strainer.
2. Next put a small plate on top and weigh it down with a few heavy cans. This will press out some of the liquid and you need to do that so the tofu can absorb more of the marinade. Leave it for about an hour. You can put the strainer over a bowl if you need to use the sink.
3. While the tofu is being pressed, mix the soy sauce, water, chopped garlic and ground ginger in a shallow rectangular dish.
4. When the tofu is ready, cut it into 1.2 inch cubes. Put it in the marinade and keep in the refrigerator for a few hours (up to 6). Toss the tofu every once in a while to make sure it all get marinated.
5. When you’re ready to cook, separate your lettuce in to separate leaves and then wash and dry it. Chop the peapods into 1 inch pieces and set aside.
6. Then chop the onion, pepper and celery (not shown on the cutting board) and saute them with some olive oil until they’re soft. Remove them from the pan.
7. Drain your tofu (reserving some of the marinating liquid).Try to make sure no pieces of garlic are stuck to the tofu, it will burn. Then heat 1 Tb of olive oil in the pan on medium high heat. When it’s hot, add the tofu. It will sizzle. Try not to touch it for a minute or two to get it to sear. Toss gently until it’s hot and all sides of the tofu cubes have browned. Then add the onions, pepper and celery back to the pan. Also add the peapods and 1-2 Tbs of the marinade liquid to taste. Cook for a minute or two until everything is hot and the peapods are cooked. I like mine on the crunchier side so I turned off the heat pretty quickly.
8. Serve the tofu mixture in the lettuce leaves and top with some chopped green onion, parsley and a dash of hot sauce. Aa and I ate one wrap each without the hot sauce and felt like it really needed the spicy vinegary flavor so if you can handle the heat, definitely don’t skip the hot sauce!