Friday, January 25, 2013

Thai Tofu Lettuce Wraps

Thai tofu lettuce wraps recipe

Have you ever tried a new fitness class and thought, "what did I get myself into"?  That happened to me this morning. Now I am not a slouch - I can keep up with a tough Vinyasa yoga class and I do log in 12-18 miles a week spread over 2 to 3 brisk walks with a friend. But today I learned at a bar method class that I am a total weakling. I don't know what I expected but something much more zen given the relaxed smiles worn by all the women featured on their website. It was, in fact, the longest 60 minutes of my life. Legs on fire, shaking uncontrollably, I looked around the class to observe how everyone else was able to cope. Well, it was like a Lamaze class. Everyone was laser-focused, breathing rhythmically to mask the pain. And many of these women appeared  to be ex-ballerinas...not just based on build - based on the fact that as they were raising a leg up, straight as an arrow, their knee caps made contact with their noses. My friend said she was having Black Swan flashbacks. Half way through the session I felt like a kid on a roller coaster who wants to get off but it's too late - so endure - the ride will only end as scheduled. And I made the declaration, "I am never coming back". But then I remembered that I already purchased 10 classes. So the torture continues.

When I arrived home {famished}, I realized I had a head of live butter lettuce that needed to be consumed soon. I always associate butter lettuce with lettuce cups and was able to make this recipe unplanned - with what I had on hand.  Tofu, mushrooms and scallions - always in the fridge. And all the condiments and sauces here? That is the convenient thing about Asian cooking. You stock up your kitchen with one shopping trip and you are then set to create any number of recipes impromptu - just as I was able to do today for lunch.

And one last note - while this recipe is spot on I always like to think how I can mix it up in the future. Tossing in some peanuts or cashews might be the ticket.

Thai Tofu Lettuce Wraps

8 oz extra firm tofu
1 T low sodium soy sauce 
1 T dry sherry
2 t peanut oil
4 scallions, sliced thinly on the diagonal
6 oz cremini mushrooms, halved and then quartered
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 t ginger, minced
2 t grated orange peel
1 head live butter lettuce
- and for the sauce
3 T dry sherry
2 T low sodium soy sauce
1 T sesame oil
2 t hoison sauce
2 t red wine vinegar
1 generous t sambal oelek {Chinese chili sauce}
1/2 t sugar or Stevia
1/4 c fresh chopped basil
- to finish
1 T cornstarch
1 T water
3 T peanut oil

Drain the tofu, cut in half width-wise and press dry between several sheets of paper towels. Cut into 1/2" cubes. Combine tofu, soy sauce, sherry and 2 t of oil in a bowl.  Cover and refrigerate. 

Mix and set aside the garlic, ginger and orange peel. In a small bowl, combine all sauce ingredients. Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat 1.5 T of oil in a non-stick skillet or wok over high heat.  Add the tofu and stir fry a few minutes until tofu begins to turn light golden. Remove tofu from skillet and set aside.  Heat remaining 1.5 T of oil in the skillet over high heat. Add the garlic mixture and stir fry for a few seconds. Add the vegetables and stir fry until onions brighten, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the tofu and sauce and once it begins to bubble stir in the cornstarch mix. Remove from heat.

Divide lettuce leaves on plates and spoon tofu mixture into each lettuce "cup".

Serves 2 as an entree for 4 as an appetizer.
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Source: Adapted from Chopstix

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