Saturday, July 15, 2017

Vegetarian Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps

It’s potluck season.

Tofu Mushroom Lettuce Wraps
Ready for Potluck
Nowadays, however, our martial arts group potlucks can be challenging for me to prepare for. We have a bunch of vegetarians, and a number of folks are opting for gluten-free options. Our crew usually brings spicy lentil or chickpea dishes, Indian style rice, veggie gluten-free pastas, chili and gluten-free cornbread. Occasionally, there is still the omnivore who brings chicken adobo (and no, that is not me – although I do eat meat and I am Filipino).

On top of it all, I was the designated baker until Sempai B joined the group. Desserts are his specialties. In the last few potlucks, he made a gorgeous and moist chocolate cakes, light chocolate mousse with homemade whipped cream. So good… I love Sempai B’s desserts. They are delicious, decadent, and gives me much inspiration and something to strive for. However, since someone usually brings cookies, I suspect that I am out of the job – for desserts at least.

So, what to do…

My other expertise are salads, so that remains an option. I also make a mean salad, most likely because it’s has been default lunch in the summer. Because of that, I have also become an expert in disguising my salads and changing the presentation a bit. I do get tired of eating the same thing so I have to trick myself. My salads are very healthy too – no heavy dressings and low sodium.  I usually pick vinegar-based (apple cider has been my recent favorite) dressings with EVOO and lots of aromatics and herbs. OK - Maybe it's too healthy.

For our last potluck, I decided to bring vegetarian lettuce wraps. This dish was actually inspired by my Hubby. He initially suggested chicken wraps. One problem: chicken - it has to be vegetarian.   That said, it was an excellent idea and I used his Vietnamese Chicken Wrap recipe as a base, but tweaked it.

What I have is below… let me know what you think.

Mad Gourmet’s Vegetarian Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps
Based on Hubby’s Vietnamese Lettuce Wrap


Filling and Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 1/2 package of tofu, Firm, lightly mashed
  • 1 portabella mushroom, finely diced (almost minced)
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil (if using fresh, use about 3/4 - 1 tsp)
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 cup shallots minced
  • 1/2 tsp lime juice, fresh squeezed
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp Sriracha hot sauce (to taste)

Wraps and Garnish
  • 6 leaves butter lettuce
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, chopped, toasted
  • 1/4 cup cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup carrots, shredded
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro sprigs

  1. Ahead of time, chill the lettuce, cucumber, carrots and herbs (recommend to put it in a leak proof glass or stainless steel container)
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the lime juice, sugar, and sriracha. Set aside.
  3. Saute shallots, tofu, and portabella mushrooms. Add ginger powder and basil. (Turn off heat after saute)
  4. Add sriracha mixture and scallions to tofu mixture. Toss to combine and chill for 1/2 hour.
  5. To serve, put tofu mixture in lettuce leaves and garnish with the cucumbers, carrots, or cilantro.


This was a hit in the party. The biggest compliment, I think, was when my friend (who is an excellent cook) wanted the recipe. Incidentally, that is why I initially wrote this recipe down.

The original recipe did use fish sauce, but I cannot add that because it is supposed to be a vegetarian dish. I was going to substitute something else for it, but the combination of lime juice, Sriracha and sugar was tasty enough. The tanginess of the lime juice combined with the sweetness of the sugar and heat – BAM!  Remember, if you want it to be vegan, do not use honey. I think this recipe is close enough to be vegan, but I am not sure of the tofu.

I love the addition of mushrooms in this dish. I have become a big fan of mushrooms since they have a texture similar to meat. It’s rich in Vitamin D as well.

Next time, I may serve it with peanut butter sauce. Also, I was thinking of doing a quick pickle on the cucumbers and carrots (think Banh Mi, folks).  I may add quinoa or rice for a heartier dish. In fact, my other buddy and I were doing Rice Pulao and Tofu wraps, and it works! Ah, the possibilities.

Hope you enjoy!

P.S. I am still going to find a way to bring my low-fat banana brownies. Those are awesome! It's a slightly modified version of my basic brownie recipe and I am working on making it gluten-free.

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