Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lettuce Cups with Tofu and Beef

These lettuce cups are so flavorful and delicious, you’d never know you were eating healthy! It’s a fun but messy meal, since you eat with your hands. We had it for dinner, but this could easily be an appetizer, like many restaurants offer. If you’re unsure about the tofu, rest assured that you really don’t even taste it—it simply acts as a healthy “filler” ingredient, (low in calories and fat; good source of protein, calcium, magnesium, and iron).

I added a tablespoon of honey to the sauce to sweeten it just a bit. I also added a dash of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to the skillet mixture. For a hint of heat, we topped our lettuce “bowls” with
Sriracha sauce before folding the leaves over.

There are a number of variations you can do with this recipe. You can substitute ground chicken, pork, or turkey for the meat. Use shrimp if you prefer a seafood flavor. For a vegetarian version, omit the beef and double the tofu, or even add rice.

Source: Lettuce Cups with Tofu and Beef, Ellie Krieger

1 tablespoons bottled chili-garlic sauce
1 ½ teaspoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
¼ cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sherry or Chinese cooking wine
8 ounces extra-firm tofu
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 tablespoons fresh minced ginger
4 scallions, greens trimmed and reserved, thinly sliced (about ⅓ cup each greens and whites - ¾-ounce each)
½ pound lean ground beef (90 percent or leaner)
½ cup finely diced water chestnuts
1 large head Bibb lettuce, outer leaves discarded, leaves separated
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
¼ cup chopped peanuts

In a bowl, whisk together chili-garlic sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, vinegar and sherry.

Slice the tofu into ½-inch thick slabs and lay the slices on top of paper towels. Use more paper towels to firmly pat the tofu in order to remove as much water as possible. This should take about 2 minutes and use about 3 paper towels. Finely mince dried tofu and set aside.

Heat the oil in a wok or extra-large skillet over medium heat. Add the ginger and scallion whites and cook until scallion whites are translucent and ginger is fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add ground beef and tofu and cook, stirring, until beef is opaque and just cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add reserved sauce. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring, an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Add water chestnuts and stir to incorporate.

Fill each lettuce leaf with the filling. Serve garnished with scallion greens, red peppers, and peanuts.

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