Tofu Lettuce Wraps

My friend, Stephanie Albares, recommended that I try P.F. Changs Chicken Lettuce Wraps with tofu in lieu of chicken.

I modified’s ingredient list by doubling the servings and replacing the four boneless skinless chicken breasts with two packages of extra firm tofu.

No, I was not cleaning out the fridge, these are my ingredients. Don’t worry, you’re not alone, I was scratching my head over the ketchup and mustard as well.

Base Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons Sesame oil
  • 2 packages extra firm tofu
  • 16 oz water chestnuts
  • 1 1/2 containers baby bella mushrooms
  • 6 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • Head of iceberg lettuce

Special Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil

Optional additions to sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons hot mustard
  • 4 teaspoons water
  • 2-4 teaspoons garlic and red chili paste

Stir Fry Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

I bought most of my ingredients at Sprouts because I knew items like sesame oil and rice wine vinegar would be hard to find. The grocery clerk said rice wine vinegar and rice vinegar are the same thing. They had everything I needed except chili paste, which I made by combining 2 tablespoons of chili powder and a little bit of water to make it pasty.

As you may now, I’m somewhat of a cooking n00b. I didn’t realize there was a difference between dry and fluid ounces, so I bought twice as much water chestnuts. You need two 8 oz containers for this recipe, not four! I also bought 3 packages of mushrooms and only needed half of them. I’m sure this recipe would be great with any type of mushroom, I bought baby bellas because I thought they’d cut down on my chopping time, and boy was I wrong.

I spent $20 on ingredients. With the excess and items I already had, I believe this figure is accurate for the overall cost.

And now, the part you’ve been waiting for, the cooking! You start by making the special sauce.

Combine 1 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl. Stir until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Add the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, lemon juice and sesame oil. It initially will look strange with the ketchup.

ooo, pretty! This is how it looked before I stirred the ketchup. I stirred the mixture until the ketchup ribbons turned into small splotches and stuck the bowl in the ‘fridge.

If you’re making hot mustard, combine 4 teaspoons water and 2 teaspoons hot water in a small container and set it aside. Do the same for the garlic/red chili paste combo if you’d like. Make 2-4 teaspoons of the garlic and red chili paste depending on how much you want and how spicy you’d like it to be. I ended up adding my 4 teaspoon garlic chili concoction to the stir fry sauce, but more on this later.

Onto the stir fry sauce. Combine 4 tablespoons soy sauce, 4 tablespoons brown sugar and 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar in a small bowl (I used a cereal bowl). Set it near the stove, you will use this very soon.

Here’s the fun part- chopping! (blatant sarcasm.) This was the most time consuming portion of this recipe. Cut the tofu, mushrooms, onion, and water chestnuts into pea-sized pieces. This was simple enough with the tofu because you work with nice rectangular blocks. Cutting the mushrooms and water crests turned into rhythmic random cutting in tune to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs tunes. Note: “Pin” is for experts only. I am not responsible for any resulting Karen O injuries.

Could it be? I’m finally done with chopping? Really? All I was thinking at this point was, “These lettuce wraps better be awesome.” And awesome, they were.

Put the tofu chunks and 6 tablespoons sesame oil in a medium pot at high heat. I used sesame oil instead of olive oil because I know the tofu absorbs lots of flavor while cooking. Stir the tofu in the sizzling hot oil for a few minutes until the tofu starts to brown. It will get a little brown from the sauce, so make sure it’s actually getting brown from the pan.

Once the tofu’s done, add the water chestnuts, mushrooms, onion and stir fry sauce. I added my red chili/garlic mix to the stir fry sauce because I like my food to have a little kick. I generally take my food at a medium heat and can say my 4 tablespoon concoction was not spicy at all.

Keep the filling at a high temperature and stir often. Add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and garlic as needed if the mixture looks dry.

Your fillings should look like this once they’re done. I’d suggest sampling it to see if it’s cooked, but be careful, it’s very hot. The tip of my tongue still throbs at the thought of this…ouch.

I wish I had better advice on how to prepare the lettuce. By this point, my parents were wondering what I was up to and why the house smelt so delicious. My mom volunteered to help by whacking the head of lettuce on the counter multiple times. What can I say…it worked. She removed the core and, voila, the lettuce was ready.

I knew there was no way I could replicate P.F. Chang’s nifty lettuce scoops, so I put a few pieces of lettuce on the plate and scooped on the filling. Top the lettuce wraps with as much special sauce as you’d like.

My dad graciously volunteered to help assemble the lettuce wraps while I took pictures.

And that’s it! Your very own vegetarian friendly P.F. Chang’s lettuce wraps. I served mine with a side of rice.

Total cost: $20

Time: ~1 hour

Rating: AMAZING. This is not something I’d make often simply because it took so long to prepare. Also note that each lettuce wrap has nearly 600 calories. I was a little surprised at first until I realized how much sugar and sodium went into making them.


One response to this post.

  1. […] Bookmans is conveniently located next to a Sprouts. I bought the ingredients I thought I needed, but didn’t realize I was short on olive oil and lemon juice, so I ended up using about 2 tablespoons of sesame oil I had left over from my tofu lettuce wraps. […]


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