Pan frying chopped tofu and drenching it in a yummy sauce is my new favorite tofu technique. It’s so easy and as I think about the sauce options, the variations are totally endless! Today I made these Hoisin Tofu Lettuce Cups with a few simple ingredients, many of which I already had on hand (What, you don’t have random half empty bottles of hoisin sauce in your fridge?)
And don’t worry, if you’re not into lettuce cups, you can totally serve this as a bowl meal. You’ll just need more rice, and maybe some diced red bell pepper to bulk them out a bit, but it will be just as yummy and a little less fussy. ;)
Hoisin Tofu Lettuce Cups
An extra, optional step to this recipe is to freeze and thaw your tofu before you begin. I like to place my package of tofu in the freezer right when I get home from the store and then the next day place it back in the refrigerator to thaw, so it’s ready a day or so later, or whenever I get around to using it. What is the benefit of freezing tofu? It completely changes the texture, making it more firm and less jelly-like. It also makes it super easy to just squeeze the liquid out with your hands, rather than having to wait 30 minutes or so while the delicate tofu presses. Try it some time. It really does make a difference!
Make it Spicy
You guys know I like my food spicy. The version of the recipe below is non-spicy, but can easily be converted for those who like to breathe fire (or if you just want a little tingle). Either drizzle sriracha over each cup to your liking, or add a pinch or two of red pepper flakes when adding the hoisin sauce to the tofu. Personally, I’m going to go for the sriracha.
Hoisin Tofu Lettuce Cups
Skip the meat and make these light and fresh Hoisin Tofu Lettuce Cups for a fast and easy vegetarian weeknight dinner.
- 14 oz. extra firm tofu $1.79
- 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch $0.08
- 2 Tbsp cooking oil $0.08
- 1/2 cup hoisin sauce $0.89
- 2 green onions $0.25
- 1 carrot $0.15
- 1/4 cup peanuts $0.12
- 1 cup cooked rice $0.25
- 1 head lettuce* $2.49
Remove your tofu from the package and place it between two plates or rimmed baking sheets. Place something heavy on top, like a cast iron skillet, to weigh it down and press out the excess liquid. Let the tofu press for about 30 minutes. Pour off the liquid and pat the tofu dry with a paper towel.
Roughly chop the block of tofu into small, irregular shapes. Place the chopped tofu in a bowl and sprinkle with salt and 1 Tbsp cornstarch. Fold the tofu and cornstarch together until coated, then add a second tablespoon of cornstarch and fold again.
Heat the cooking oil in a large non-stick skillet (cast iron or teflon, your choice) over medium. Once hot, add the cornstarch coated tofu. Allow the tofu to cook until golden brown on the bottom, then stir and let cook until golden brown on bottom again. Repeat this process until most of the tofu is golden and crispy on the edges (about 10 minutes total), then remove it from the heat.
Add the hoisin sauce to the fried tofu and stir to coat. Slice the green onion and shred the carrot. Roughly chop the peanuts.
To build the lettuce cups, spoon 1-2 Tbsp cooked rice into each lettuce leaf, top with 1-2 Tbsp of the hoisin tofu, then sliced green onion, shredded carrot, and chopped peanuts. Enjoy!
I used bibb lettuce, but any sturdy lettuce, like Romaine or even ice berg can be used.
Step by Step Photos
Remove a 14oz. block of extra firm tofu from its package and place it between two plates or rimmed baking sheets. Place something heavy on top, like a cast iron skillet, to allow the excess liquid to be pressed out. Press the tofu for 30 minutes, then pour off the liquid and pat it dry with a paper towel. If you have previously frozen and thawed your tofu, you can literally just squeeze the block between your hands and the liquid will just pour out. No need to let it press for 30 minutes.
Roughly chop the tofu into small, irregular shaped pieces.
Place the chopped tofu in a bowl and add 1/4 tsp salt and 1 Tbsp cornstarch. Fold the ingredients together until the tofu is coated, then add a second tablespoon of cornstarch and fold again.
Heat 2 Tbsp cooking oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium (cast iron or teflon, they both work). Once the skillet and oil are very hot, add the cornstarch coated tofu. Let it cook until golden brown on the bottom, then stir and let it cook until golden brown again. Repeat this process until most of the tofu is golden brown and crispy (about 10 minutes total). Remove the tofu from the heat.
Add about 1/2 cup hoisin sauce to the tofu and stir to coat.
And there’s your hoisin tofu! Easy, right?
While the tofu is cooking, you can prepare the rest of the toppings. Roughly chop 1/4 cup peanuts, slice two green onions, and shred one carrot (I use a large-holed cheese grater).
To build the lettuce cups, place 1-2 Tbsp cooked rice in each lettuce leaf…
Then top with 1-2 Tbsp of the hoisin tofu, some shredded carrot, sliced green onions, and chopped peanuts.
And that’s it! Time to dig in!