Calling all lettuce wrap lovers! I feel like there are a lot of you out there, including myself! These crisp lettuce wraps are filled with a savoury hoisin tofu and shiitake mushroom filling. As well as ramen noodles, a colourful hit of shredded purple cabbage and chopped cashews, cilantro and sesame seeds. They’re sweet, spicy, vegan and of course, delicious!
The general idea for this recipe came to me when I was out for a snowy walk with my pup, Hudson. It was clear, I needed to immediately make these lettuce wraps.
Let’s start with the tofu. Whether baking or pan frying, I feel like I have finally mastered crispy tofu. The key is gently tossing the tofu with cornstarch before cooking. This creates a beautiful golden crust around the tofu, thus creating “crispy tofu”.
The other important thing is to be patient and allow the tofu to hangout on the pan without flipping or tossing until that first side is nice and golden brown. Then do your best to flip the tofu to a new side with a spatula. Personally, once at least two sides are quite golden and crisp I will finish browning the tofu with occasionally shaking the pan to flip the tofu. I don’t worry too much about making sure all four sides have a perfect golden exterior. Not necessary. The crispy tofu is eventually combined with sautéed shiitake mushrooms and the sweet and spicy hoisin sauce. The sauce is a mixture of garlic, fresh ginger, sriracha and more. The bottom line here is, it’s delicious.
Of course, you can’t forget about the noodles in lettuce wraps. In my opinion, lettuce wraps aren’t complete without them. I used brown rice ramen noodles but feel free to use whatever variety you want or have on hand. These lettuce wraps are completed with some lime tossed purple cabbage, cilantro and cashews. Yum!
While this recipe is quite simple I would suggest having a helper in the kitchen if possible. Someone can work on the sauce, tofu/mushroom mixture and noodles while someone else works on getting the lettuce cups, cabbage, cilantro and cashews all ready to go. Things will come together quicker and with more ease. Or if you are planning on making these on an evening where you are tight for time, you could prep the lettuce cups, cabbage, cilantro and cashews ahead of time to eliminate some steps the night of.
Before I leave you so you can go make them for yourself, here’s a lettuce wrap pro tip: double up your lettuce cups. The wraps magically become a lot less messy, extra crunchy and can hold way more filling.
Ciao for now,
Hoisin Sauce Mixture:
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 inch (2.5 cm) ginger, finely grated
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) hoisin sauce
- 3 tbsp (45 ml) sriracha (adjust to taste)
- 3 tbsp (45 ml) soy sauce
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) sesame oil
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) water
- 1 12-oz (350 gr) package tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) tamari or soy sauce
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) cornstarch
- 3 tbsp (45 ml) neutral oil (ex. grape seed oil), divided
- 4 cups (1 litre) shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 2 bundles of ramen noodles
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 2 cups (500 ml) purple cabbage, thinly sliced
- Juice of 1 lime
- Pinch of salt
- 1 head of iceberg lettuce, halved and bottom core removed
- Garnish: chopped cilantro, chopped cashews, sesame seeds, hot sauce
- Hoisin sauce mixture: combine garlic, ginger, hoisin sauce, sriracha, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and water in a bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
- Tofu: Toss cubed tofu with soy sauce and corn starch in a bowl. Heat nonstick frying pan with 2 tbsp oil over medium heat. Allow the oil to heat before adding tofu. Test a piece of tofu to see if it sizzles. If yes, then add the rest of tofu to pan and spread evenly. Let tofu cook until it turns a golden brown. Then use a spatula to flip the tofu. Repeat process until most sides of the tofu are golden and crispy. This can take up to 15 minutes. Once tofu is done, remove from pan and add to a medium bowl.
- Add another splash of oil to pan and sauté mushrooms until browned; about 5 minutes. Once cooked add mushrooms to the bowl with tofu.
- Meanwhile, prepare noodles according to package directions. Once cooked, strain and set aside. If noodles stick together, run warm water over them before serving.
- Toss cabbage in a bowl with lime juice and salt. Set aside.
- Prepare garnishes if using.
- Set aside 1/3 cup hoisin sauce mixture for serving with lettuce wraps.
- Heat nonstick pan over medium heat and add green onions and remaining hoisin sauce. Heat until sauce starts to bubble, stirring frequently; about 3 minutes. Then add tofu and mushrooms back to pan and stir until they are coated with hoisin sauce. Once coated, remove from heat.
- To serve: Take 1 or 2 lettuce cups and add noodles, tofu mushroom mixture, cabbage, top with desired garnishes (cilantro, cashews, sesame seeds, hot sauce) and drizzle with additional hoisin sauce mixture.
Make ahead and timing: Prepare sauce up to a day ahead. The cabbage, cilantro and cashews can be chopped earlier in the day. Also, the lettuce cups can be washed, drained and separated in the morning.
Dietary Considerations: Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-Free