I love PF Changs Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps. They have a depth of flavor and crunch that is hard to find anywhere else.
I started looking for a copycat recipe because the PF Changs near us is inconvenient to go to. The only one I found was for the chicken wraps, so I had to modify it for tofu (http://www.recipezaar.com/recipe/P-F-Changs-Chicken-Lettuce-Wraps-15865).
The RecipeZaar.com recipe got lots of good reviews, so I decided to try it. A short trip to the Asian market and we were in business.
The recipe I used was supposedly taken originally from Todd Wilbur and Top Secret Recipes and posted by Lali to RecipeZaar.com to imitate their chicken lettuce wraps. Why anyone would want to duplicate THOSE, I don’t know… every meat eater I have ever talked to prefers the tofu ones!
My biggest complaints about the original version were with the sauces. The “special sauce” was terrible – watery with too much sugar and too many flavors. The sauce B made was much better and only had two ingredients (soy sauce and Siracha hot sauce). We didn’t even end up adding the mustard, but some people like it and they do add it at PF Changs.
I made the below modified version, and it came out VERY good – smokey chewy, crunchy and fresh. I just finished the last of it for lunch and it kept very well and reheated fine in the microwave.
It is important to note that if you are planning to use dried shiitaki mushrooms (plan to! they add a significant amount of flavor!), the dried mushrooms MUST soak in hot water for 25 minutes before they are ready. They will add to the prep time, but the flavor is fantastic and I highly recommend them.
(iPhone photos cannot compare to DSLR! Looks like meat, ya?)
Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps
25 min | 15 min prep
Wok or large pan to make a stir fry
Wooden spoon for stirring hot food
3 tablespoons vegetable oil for frying e.g. canola
1 package firm or extra firm tofu, crumbled into small bits
1 cup water chestnut
2/3 cup mushrooms (* I used a blend of rehydrated shiitakes and button mushrooms)
3 tablespoons chopped onions (scallions)
2 tablespoons green onions (* not in original recipe)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
One head of iceberg lettuce
Stir Fry Cooking Sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil (* not in original recipe)
Pinch of black pepper (to taste)
1 teaspoon Vegetarian Worcheshire sauce
Drizzle Sauce: (* completely revamped from original recipe)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1-2 teaspoon garlic and red chile paste or Siracha – free to add more if you like it spicy!
optional: 1-3 teaspoons hot mustard (or less, to taste)
Cut the mushrooms, garlic, water chestnuts, and onions into similar sized pieces – diced or cubed. They should be about the size of small peas. They should be as uniform in size as possible but not too small that you can’t taste them. Set aside – it is OK to mix these.
Cut the of the green onions and keep separate. Use only the white bottom and up the stalk until the very green part where it starts to get soft. I usually use the bottom half of the green onion.
Drain or press as much water as you can get out of the tofu. Crumble the tofu between your hands until it is approximately the same size as the vegetables you cut earlier.
Bring oil to high heat in a wok or large frying pan. It should move fast and be shimmery but not be smoking heavily.
Saute tofu crumbles for about 5-10 minutes or until they brown and get crispy – cooktop temperatures vary but the golden brown tofu color is what you’re looking for. The tofu probably will not get completely ‘crispy’ but it should get a nice golden brown color all over. It helps to coat the tofu in oil and spread the tofu out against the sides of the wok rather than letting it sit in the bottom of the wok in the oil.
Add water chestnuts, garlic, mushrooms, and onion (not green onions) to the pan.
Add the stir fry sauce and be sure all the ingredients are coated with it.
Saute the mixture for 3-5 minutes.
Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl.
Add the green onions and mix with a large spoon.
Let cool slightly before eating so you don’t burn people’s hands!
Serve with a large spoon alongside the lettuce cups and drizzle sauce. You can also serve with chow mein crunchy noodles or crispy rice noodles.
To prepare: Spoon the tofu into the lettuce cup and top with the special sauce. Add crispy/crunchy noodles if available. Wrap the lettuce around the ingredients like a taco/burrito and enjoy!