Thursday, August 20, 2009

In which I loathe tofu

I have a confession to make.

I hate tofu.

Ok, that's not really true. It's ok in hot n' sour soup. And I've had it a few times in restaurants, battered and fried (which just seems wrong) and it's "ok." I can eat it, but I don't really love it.

Then I went to P.F. Changs. Now P.F. Changs is a little bit of veg heaven, since everything on the vegetarian menu is vegan. I also hate making a fuss in restaurants, so going somewhere, where I can order stuff right off the menu, is lovely to me.

And that's how I met P.F. Changs' veggie wraps. The contrast of the little chewy bits of tofu, the crunch of the lettuce, the spicy tang of the sauce. YUM.

Turns out I do like tofu when it's chewy and not mushy, and is imbued with soy sauce and ginger and garlic.

It wasn't long until I had to make my own. I started by buying some pre-baked tofu at the grocery store, and the texture is great, but it's hella expensive. So I've also learned to make my own baked tofu, too.

The lettuce wraps aren't exactly the same as P.F. Changs, but they are close enough to satisfy my cravings. The only really bad thing about them is that I have to share with the kids :/

Veggie lettuce wraps
Serves 4 for dinner; more as an appetizer

1 block extra-firm organic tofu, drained and pressed**
4oz shitake mushrooms, diced
1 can sliced water chestnuts, diced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 bunch of green onions, sliced thinly
3 tsp minced garlic, divided
1 TBS fresh mint, minced
2 tsp minced or grated ginger, divided
3 TBS soy sauce, divided
2 TBS sesame oil, divided
Iceberg or other lettuce leaves
Special sauce (recipe below)

** to press tofu, drain and place on a plate lined with paper towels, put another couple paper towels on top, and cover with a heavy pan for approximately 15 minutes

Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Dice the drained and pressed tofu into 1/2" cubes. Spread on the baking sheet, and sprinkle with 2 TBS of the soy sauce, 1 TBS of the sesame oil, 1 tsp of the ginger, and 1 tsp of the garlic. Toss gently to coat, spread out as much as possible, and bake for about 25 minutes, stirring 2-3 times, until lightly browned and chewy.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 TBS of sesame oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for a minute, then add the red and green onion, water chestnuts, 2 tsp of garlic, 1 TBS of mint, 1 tsp of ginger, and 1 TBS of soy sauce. Stir fry for another minute, add the tofu to combine, and cook for 1 minute more.

Spoon into lettuce cups and top with special sauce.

Special sauce
recipe is per person; adjust as desired

2 parts potsticker or gyoza sauce (or use soy)
1 part chinese hot mustard
1 part fresh ground chili paste (available in most grocery stores, or at an asian market)

Mix with a whisk and serve. Note: adjust hot mustard and chili based on your heat tolerance. I put just a touch of them in the portions I serve to the kids, for example.


1 comment:

  1. Now figure out how to make the coconut curry!