I embarked upon a mission recently. A tofu mission. Two of my friends here are vegetarian (vegan as often as they can), and so we talk a decent amount about yummy vegetarian and vegan food. They get tofu often when we go out to restaurants, and they like to cook it at home. I have tried to cook tofu a few times at home, and every time I’ve attempted, it has been a RAGING FAIL. Like…immediately in the trash type of situation.
But my tofu-cooking curiosity was re-lit when I was talking to these friends about ways they cook tofu at their house. So I decided to embark upon my tofu mission once again and was determined to cook it and make it delicious!
So I bought like four packs of tofu from the store (SO cheap by the way! Snaps for tofu), and got started.
Attempt number one: massive fail. Used a cast iron skillet and the tofu was sticking like the little boy’s tongue to the frozen flagpole in A Christmas Story. It totally fell apart and was literally cemented to the skillet. Long story short, it was super fun to clean that up later.
Attempt number two: not a massive fail, but not perfect. I used a nonstick skillet and diced the tofu into very small cubes – more surface area to get crispy and flavorful. It took too long to dice up, and it was too much work to keep them in their little cubes and not “scramble” them while they cooked. They turned out okay, but the best part was the cubes that actually did get crumbled and were extra tiny and crispy and saucy. Which led me to attempt three.
Attempt number three: the success. We crumble the tofu in the pan right from the start, which not only reduces the prep work a lot but also makes it so that the tofu is all in tiny pieces, increasing the amount of tofu that gets crispy and sauced, reducing the amount of spongy, bland tofu interior (the outside is where the flavor comes from because of the sear and the sauce).
It was delicious! Perfect for those who are skeptical about tofu but are curious to venture into its unique realm. The crumbled texture and hard sear makes it feel like you are eating ground meat, and the flavor bomb sauce takes away any tofu flavor that would have previously been there.
It’s the perfect topping for a delicious, loaded lettuce wrap. We started with a leaf of butter lettuce, added a small pile of brown rice noodles, some shredded cabbage, grated carrots, cilantro, peanuts, a big squeeze of lime juice, and a little squirt of sriracha (and the tofu, obvi).
Fresh, flavorful, and SO delicious. If you are wanting to dabble in the world of tofu, this is a great starter dish for you!Print
Thai Tofu Lettuce Wraps
- Prep Time: 30 mins
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 3 cups tofu 1x
For the tofu
- 2 14 oz packages extra firm tofu
- 2 teaspoons high smoke point oil (we used avocado, but coconut oil will work too)
- 5 oz can water chestnuts, diced
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon red curry paste
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- Small dash sriracha
For the lettuce wraps
- Butter lettuce
- Brown rice noodles, cooked according to package instructions
- Coleslaw mix (I used the kind with white and purple cabbage)
- Shredded carrots
- Peanuts, chopped
- Lime juice
- Lay out your tofu in between several layers of paper towels, and place something heavy on top. I use a cast iron skillet or a dutch oven with a large can of tomatoes on top. Let the tofu press for about 30 minutes.
- When it’s pressed, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high – high heat. When hot, add 2 teaspoons of a high smoke point oil (I used avocado oil, but coconut oil would work great too)
- Add the tofu to the hot pan and crumble until it resembles about the size of ground meat
- Season with salt and pepper, and leave the tofu undisturbed until it is becoming nice and golden brown. Stir and toss around, and leave undisturbed again until the bottom is getting golden brown. Continue to repeat this until all the tofu on all sides has become a deep golden brown
- Meanwhile, make your sauce. In a bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, curry paste, garlic, ginger, sugar, water, and sriracha
- Add your sauce to the tofu and stir to combine. Continue the same cooking process (stirring, leaving undisturbed until it’s becoming crispy, stir, repeat) until the tofu is brown and crispy and the sauce has caramelized around all the pieces. Stir in your water chestnuts and let cook for a few more minutes
- Season to taste with salt and pepper
- To make your lettuce wraps, start with your butter lettuce, add your brown rice noodles, your coleslaw mix, and your carrots. Then add a few big spoonfuls of tofu, and garnish with lime juice, peanuts, cilantro, and a little squeeze of sriracha
Nutrition info and serving size is just based around the tofu because your lettuce wrap ingredients and amounts will vary largely.
- Serving Size: 1/2 cup tofu
- Calories: 153
- Sugar: 1 g
- Sodium: 672 mg
- Fat: 8 g
- Carbohydrates: 6 g
- Fiber: 2 g
- Protein: 13 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
If you make this or any of my other recipes, be sure to Instagram it and hashtag #thegarlicdiaries so I can see!
In the mood for more yummy lettuce wrap recipes? Check these out: