The first time I made this, I followed the instructions exactly as written. It involved dragging out the wok and frying each ingredient individually, including the nuts! I remember that it felt a bit ‘fussy’ for Asian food.
Last night, I prepped all the veg, fried the tofu and set it aside, and dumped all the rest in at once. Added the sauce when everything was nice and soft and beginning to brown. Returned the tofu, and voila! Dinner was ready.
Now that I’ve simplified (and modified from all the unusual Asian ingredients, not commonly found in my pantry), this meal becomes easy for a weekday. Don’t hesitate to try this.
Note: these amounts made enough for 3 hungry adults. (2-3 lettuce cups each.) This recipe would be a cinch to double.
Here’s what you need:
1 block extra firm (or firm) tofu
1 T rice vinegar or mirin
1 T soy sauce
2 t cider vinegar
4 T hoisin sauce
2 t chili paste (Sambal oelek….or I guess you could use Sriracha)
1 t corn starch
1 C Portobello mushrooms (shiitakes would be great too!)
3 cloves garlic – minced or pressed
1 inch fresh ginger- minced
½ C jicama (about the size of a small apple)
2 celery stalks
¼ C salted peanuts
Lettuce (prepped for use as a cup. Choose a butter lettuce or a large iceberg)
Here’s what you do: (the easy way)
Cut the tofu in ¼ inch slabs and place on a few clean kitchen towels which are arranged on the cutting board. Wrap them up in more towels and place another cutting board on top of it all. Place a heavy object, like a cast iron skillet, on the top and walk away. Allow liquid to press out. After 30-60 minutes, the tofu will be nice and dry. This process can be done much earlier in the day.
Prepare the sauce by mixing the two vinegars, soy sauce, hoisin, chili paste and corn starch. Set aside.
Prep the veg by mincing it all in ¼ inch dice. Remember, it will be served in a piece of lettuce, so it needs to be a pretty small dice. You should end up with about 2 cups of veg. Put it all in the same bowl.
Prep the tofu by cutting it in ¼ inch dice.
Chop the peanuts and prepare the cilantro – set those aside. Make sure the lettuce is clean and cold.
Heat some oil in a non-stick pan or pot (or wok if you’re feeling fancy) Fry the tofu. It’ll get really chewy, so take it out when it’s to your liking. I did mine very well and loved it. Remove the tofu and set aside.
Brown all the veg at once and stir and heat until it’s soft and getting a bit brown. Add the tofu and peanuts and reserved sauce (You want to reactivate the cornstarch before adding by giving it a stir). The mixture will thicken up very quickly. Remove to a serving platter and add a liberal amount of cilantro.
Serve in prepared lettuce leaves.