Jun 8, 2006

Tofu and Veggie Pilaf Lettuce Wraps

Not an official recipe here. I’ll just let you know how I whip up this tasty dish.

The only time I buy iceberg lettuce is for this dish. Before you all get your cheesecloth in a knot, to me, iceberg is blah. It’s nice and crisp but that’s about it. I’ve got plenty of flavorful greens in my garden to choose from before I’d consider iceberg. I’ve even got lettuce options in the garden that would work for this dish. But we usually don’t let the heads get quite big enough. Iceberg is also very convenient when you don’t have the time or the energy to pick and wash your own lettuce. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

First I make the rice. For the version in the photos, I used
Bhutanese Red Rice. We get it in bulk from our favorite co-op. It’s so delicious and so pretty. Whether I use broth or water, I season the water with some of the spices that will go into the finished dish. I also add whole spices if the mood strikes me. Into this rice I added a few cumin seeds and some fenugreek along with some curry powder and garlic powder. The seeds are completely soft when the rice is done and add such flavor and fragrance.

While the rice is cooking, drain and press a block of extra firm tofu. While the tofu is under pressure, make a marinade. Into a large bowl I mix a little fish sauce (omit for vegetarian/vegan option), a healthy dose of Chinese black vinegar, soy sauce, mirin, a plop of black bean paste, the juice of one lime, sambar powder, curry powder, ground coriander, 4-5 chopped cloves of garlic, a heafty tablespoon of chopped ginger, and a couple tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro. I chop the tofu into small cubes and toss it with the marinade. Set this aside in the refrigerator until it’s time to cook. Give it a toss every now and then.

For the pilaf I chop the following veggies into a small dice: carrots, onions, mushroom, red bell pepper, zucchini and cabbage. I also had some leek scapes that I chopped up and added to this batch. I sauté this in a little EVOO for a few minutes until a little browning occurs. I then drained the marinade off the tofu and added that to the sauté along with the finished rice, cooking on medium heat until much of the moisture is gone. I empty the pan of the sauté mix then add a little more EVOO, heat it up again then sauté the tofu until some browning appears. Serve the tofu and the pilaf in separate bowls. Core the lettuce and either serve whole leaves or half leaves. Depends on how big you want your wrap. Give everyone a spoon and serve family style. Have plenty of napkins and enjoy.

Sorry the photo is more exciting. Sometimes I completely forget to take a picture until it’s almost too late

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