Sunday, May 3, 2015

Lettuce wraps with tofu and water chestnuts a.k.a. P.F. Chang's lettuce wraps

P.F. Chang's lettuce wraps are famous all over the US. We love eating them whenever we chance upon a P.F. Chang during our travels. Since they don't have a branch in New York, I decided to make a version of those which are really good. The missing element is the fried bean thread noodles. I am not a big fan of frying - if you are, please make them - they add another level of crunch to the wraps. My lettuce wraps are filled with tofu, mushrooms and water chestnuts topped with a tangy chili sauce.

Lettuce wraps with tofu and water chestnuts

One 14 ox box of firm organic tofu
One 8 oz can of water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
6 large cremini mushrooms, wiped and chopped
1/2 cup finely minced red onion
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon canola oil
Chopped peanuts or chopped cashew for topping
Fried bean thread noodles (optional)
One head of iceberg lettuce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese chili garlic sauce

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. In the meantime, drain the liquid from the tofu and weight it down on a plate with a rim to extract as much liquid as possible.
  3. Chop the tofu into 1/4 inch cubes and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  4. When the oven is hot, place the baking sheet in the middle rack. Let it cook for 15 minutes. Remove and flip the tofu pieces to get even color on both sides. Cook for another 15 minutes.
  5. During the last 15 minutes, heat a large non-stick skillet with canola oil. Add the minced garlic and onion and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes till the onion looks translucent. 
  6. Add the chopped mushrooms - mix and raise the heat to high. Cook the mixture for around 2 to 3 minutes till the mushrooms are starting to soften. Add the chopped water chestnuts and cook tossing occasionally till the mushroom is brown. Switch off the heat and wait for the tofu.
  7. Once the tofu is ready, add it to the mushroom and water chestnut mixture. Add the hoisin sauce, oyster sauce and the soy sauce and mix well. Cook on medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes till the tofu and vegetables absorb the sauce. Transfer to a serving dish.
  8. For the lettuce, cut off the bottom of the head of lettuce and carefully separate the leaves to keep them whole.
  9. For the sauce, mix the three ingredients to make this tangy chili sauce.
  10. Serve the lettuce wraps filled with a tablespoon or two of the filling depending on the size of the leaf, topped with chopped peanuts or cashew and a drizzle of the sauce. 
Serves 4 as an appetizer.

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