P.F. Chang's Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps
By Todd Wilbur
Menu Description: “Wok-seared tofu, red onions, water chestnuts with mint and lime. Served with cool lettuce cups.”
After publishing the original version of my clone for this chain’s Chicken in Soothing Lettuce Wraps in 2006 I began receiving requests for a clone of the vegetarian version. I was hesitant to even try the vegetarian version thinking that it could not possibly be as delicious as the chicken version. Boy, was I wrong. The red onion, lime juice and mint set these lettuce wraps apart, and finely diced baked tofu replaces the chicken. Baked tofu has a dark exterior and is much firmer than regular tofu. If you can’t find it at your supermarket you can get it at Asian markets or in specialty stores such as Whole Foods. It comes in a variety of flavors like teriyaki and curry, but you want the unflavored stuff. Slice it by cutting it into thin slices, cut those slices in half lengthwise, and then cutting across those julienned slices so that you end up with very small diced pieces. Crank your stove up as high as it goes for this one.
Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.
This recipe is available in
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1/8 teaspoon chili oil
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon Chinese hot mustard paste (See Tidbits)
- 1 to 3 tablespoons garlic chili sauce
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 2 lime wedges
- 2 tablespoons chopped green onion
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 ounces baked tofu (regular flavor)
- One 8-ounce can water chestnuts drained and minced (about 1 cup)
- 1/4 cup diced red onion
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- Juice from a wedge of lime (about 1/2 teaspoon)
- 1 tablespoon minced mint leaves
- 1 to 1/2 cups fried maifun rice sticks (see Tidbits)
- 4 to 5 iceberg lettuce cups
- Do This
1. Make the special sauce (for spooning over your lettuce wraps) by dissolving the sugar in the water in a small bowl. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, and chili oil. Add the chopped green onion and set the sauce aside until you're ready to serve the lettuce wraps. Eventually you will add Chinese mustard and chili sauce to this special sauce mixture to pour over each of your lettuce wraps. In the restaurant, waiters prepare the sauce at your table the same way based on your desired heat level. I'll tell you more about that later.
2. Prepare the stir-fry sauce by mixing all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.
3. To prepare the filling for your lettuce wraps, heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large sauté pan or wok over high heat. Slice the tofu into thin strips, slice the strips in half, and then cut through the strips, making a small (tiny) dice. Chop the water chestnuts into pieces that are about the size of peas. If you haven't fried the maifun rice sticks, this is a good time to do that.
4. When the oil is hot, add the tofu and sauté for about 20 seconds. Add the water chestnuts, red onion, and garlic, and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the stir-fry sauce and juice from the wedge of a lime and sauté for 2 more minutes. Add the mint and green onion and spoon everything out onto a bed of fried maifun rice noodles on a serving dish. Place 2 wedges of lime on the dish.
5. Serve the dish with a side of lettuce cups. Make these lettuce cups by slicing the top off a head of iceberg lettuce right through the middle of the head. Pull your lettuce cups off of the outside of this slice.
6. Prepare the special sauce at the table by adding your desired measurement of hot mustard and chili sauce to the special sauce blend: 1 teaspoon of the chili garlic sauce for mild, 1/2 teaspoon of mustard paste plus 2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce for medium, and 1 teaspoon of mustard paste and 3 teaspoons of chili garlic sauce for hot. Stir well.
7. Assemble each lettuce wrap by spooning the filing into a lettuce cup, adding special sauce over the top, and eating it like a taco.
Serves 2 as an appetizer.
Tidbits: Follow the directions on the package for frying the maifun rice sticks—usually by pouring 2 inches of vegetable oil into a pan and heating it to around 400 degrees F. Add the maifun, a little at a time, and when it floats to the top, remove it to a paper towel.
You can find Chinese mustard in bottles sold as a paste or you can use dry Chinese mustard powder and make it into a paste. Follow the directions on the bottle for mixing the dry stuff with water to turn in into a paste, which can then be mixed into the special sauce.