vegan tofu lettuce cups, chinese new year

Yummy, Asian-spiced tofu cubes form the base these lettuce wraps. A recipe follows for a homemade version (which can be made a a day ahead and refirgerated), but in a pinch, store-bought Asian-style baked tofu cut into cubes can be substituted. Wrap 1 pound of extra firm tofu in a clean, dry kitchen towel and let the excess liquid drain out for about 5 minutes. Cut tofu into small cubes. A good way to do this is by laying the tofu on its side and making 8 or 9 vertical slices, then cutting each of the slices into smaller rows and then cubes.

In a large (9″ by 12″) glass pan, mix together 3 Tbsp shoyu (or tamari or soy sauce), 2 Tbsp mirin, 1 scant Tbsp minced ginger, 2 minced garlic cloves and 1/4 water.┬áPlace tofu in pan and let marinate for at least an hour, gently stirring after about 30 minutes to ensure that the pieces are coated.

vegan tofu lettuce cups, chinese new year

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Before putting the pan into the oven, drizzle 1 Tbsp of sesame oil and 1 Tbsp of sesame seeds over the tofu, again gently mixing. Bake tofu for 50 minutes, adding another 1 Tbsp of sesame oil and 1 Tbsp of sesame seeds after 25 minutes and mixing again.

vegan tofu lettuce cups, chinese new year

Make the drizzling sauce. In a small bowl, mix together 2 Tbsp sugar with 1/4 cup water, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 1/2 Tbsp ketchup, 1 garlic clove that has been zested with a microplane zester (or minced as small as possible), and 1 tsp of orange juice. Mix well and set aside.

vegan tofu lettuce cups, chinese new year

Prepare the rest of the filling. Dice 2 stalks of celery (this will yield about 3/4 cup). Drain an 8 oz can of water chestnuts and dice.

vegan tofu lettuce cups, chinese new year

Heat 1 Tbsp sesame or vegetable oil over medium high heat. Add the water chestnuts and celery and 2 tsp shoyu (or tamari or soy sauce). Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add tofu and 2 thinly sliced scallions (green parts only) and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until all of the ingredients are heated through.

vegan tofu lettuce cups, chinese new year

Peel the leaves off of a head of lettuce and stack on a platter. Use the freshest lettuce you can find so that the leaves are not smushed and sticking together. Transfer tofu mixture to the platter with the sauce and lettuce. Spoon desired amount of tofu and veggie mixture onto lettuce leaf, drizzle with sauce and eat like a taco.