The ritzy feel of cool lettuce leaves invites diverse creative concoctions at the hands of the clever cook. In their elaborate, baroque-bordered expanses, she can tuck in oodles of scrumptious fixins, almost foreseeing a rhapsodic, restaurant-style outburst of seasoning and composition for when the unsuspecting family will dig in. It is in the plush depths of tofu that she sees the first glimpse of goodness, turning almost spontaneously to the staid essence of water chestnuts, the crunch of bell peppers and onions, the piquancy of ginger and garlic, the latticed crispness of rice sticks. Without hedging, she stirs in a potpourri of spices and sauces over these crunchy niblets and creates a special stir-fry filling for those luxurious lettuce pockets. While she is aware that it takes a little more than the rolling up of sleeves to relish these wrapped up treats..she momentarily allows some childlike lip-smacking, in savory anticipation..
Tofu Lettuce Wraps
- ½ Head of lettuce – Green Leaf, Romaine, Iceberg all work great
- ½ Teaspoon red chilli flakes
- 2 Garlic cloves
- 1″ Knob of ginger
- ½ Block firm tofu, pressed and drained
- 1 Large red onion
- ½ Bell pepper/capsicum
- 1 Can water chestnuts, or 1 Cup corn kernels
- 1 Cup rice sticks (We used the Dynasty brand – Maifun Rice Sticks) – See Note
- Oil for deep-frying
- 2 Tablespoons peanut or sesame oil
For the stir-fry sauce -
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 Teaspoon brown mustard
- 2 Teaspoons chilli sauce
- 2 Tablespoons water or stock
1 Spring onion, green part only, thinly sliced
Remove the inner leaves of the lettuce, wash, dry and place in the fridge to chill.
Cut the tofu into thin strips and cut the strips into very tiny cubes, smaller than peas. Mince the garlic and ginger. Chop the onion, bell pepper and water chestnuts -approximately the same size as the tofu.
Stir together all the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and keep ready.
Heat oil for deep-frying and toss in the rice sticks. Turn once and remove when they are all puffed-up and done. Set aside to drain on paper towels. Crumble a little once they cool.
Preheat a wok and add the oil. Toss in the red chilli flakes, ginger and garlic. After a few seconds, add the tofu cubes and stir-fry, on high heat, tossing frequently. Add a large pinch of salt and pepper. Once the tofu gets a little color on it, add the onions and bell pepper. Continue to stir for a couple of minutes. Then add the water chestnuts and fry for another minute. Finally mix in the sauce and switch off the heat.
To serve, place some of the rice sticks on a lettuce leaf. Put the tofu mixture on top, sprinkle the spring onion greens, roll-up and enjoy!
- Crumbled-up crispy rice snacks or fried rice papads can also be used in place of the sticks.
- If you’d like a sauce to drizzle over the wraps, mix up a tablespoon of orange marmalade or honey with soy sauce, vinegar and chilli sauce to taste