My favorite recipes are ones that are packed with tons of different flavors and textures, and don't take too long to cook! This Vietnamese tofu lettuce wraps recipe meets all those criteria! Tofu gets stir fried with garlic, ginger, peanuts, fish sauce and lime juice and tons of fresh herbs, then served in a fresh, crispy lettuce wraps with rice noodles and dipping sauce!
Lettuce wraps are one of my favorite things. I love the combination of fresh, crunchy lettuce and a salty, savory umami filling. I've written before about how my favorite foods are ones that have lots of different flavors and textures going on, but don't take a lot of time to prepare. These Vietnamese tofu lettuce wraps definitely meet all that criteria!
How to make tofu taste great:
Think of tofu like a flavor sponge! By itself, it doesn’t have a ton of flavor. But the trick is squeezing some of the moisture out so it will soak up some flavorful marinade. Tofu will take on the flavor of whatever you marinade it with.
To make these wraps, make sure you get extra-firm tofu and drain it really well. You can get a fancy schmancy tofu press for that, or do as I do and wrap the block of tofu up with a paper towel, followed by a clean dish towel (I do the double layer because my dish towels are never free of dog hair), then put it on a plate and weigh it down with a heavy skillet with a few cans placed inside for extra weight. Extra dry tofu means it'll get some good browning action, and that it will soak up lots of flavor.
One of my favorite things about eating when we were in Vietnam was how everything was served with a big bowl of lettuce and herbs. Herbs were basically a eaten like a vegetable! The contrast of salty with the bright, fresh herbs was the best. I threw a ton of herbs into the stir fried tofu, but feel free to add even more to make a little herb salad on the side.
I also served these Vietnamese tofu lettuce wraps with a side of rice noodles to soak up all the yummy sauce, and add some filling carbohydrate, but you could also serve it with fresh steamed rice. I also served it with miso roasted eggplant I got from the farmer's market, but if you'd like to add more vegetables to this dish, crunchy cucumber and carrots would be delish in here. Try my spiralized cucumber salad which is tossed with a dressing of soy and sesame oil!
Vietnamese Tofu Lettuce Wraps Recipe
2 tablespoons peanut oil or neutral flavored oil
1/2 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
16 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed, crumbled
1/4 cup peanuts, chopped
Juice of 1 small lime or half a large lime
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons chopped scallion
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped mint
Butter or leaf lettuce leaves, for serving
Cooked rice noodles, for serving
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
First, make the sauce. Whisk together all sauce ingredients in a small bowl and let sit until ready to serve.
Heat peanut oil in skillet on medium-high heat. Add red onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes. Saute 30 seconds until fragrant.
Add crumbled tofu and peanuts and saute 10-12 minutes until lightly golden.
Add lime juice and fish sauce and cook until liquid is absorbed. Stir in herbs. Season with salt to taste.
Serve tofu in lettuce cups with rice noodles and sauce for dipping or drizzling.