Hot weather calls for bringing on the salads, says Zelda Pande.
A starter like Mushroom-Tofu Filled Lettuce Wraps, with its zesty, spicy stuffing, nestling in icy cold salad leaves, chases down the mercury.
Mushroom-Tofu Filled Lettuce Wraps
- 1 large head of iceberg lettuce
- 200 gm tofu, diced into tiny 1 mm cubes
- 200 gm button mushrooms, finely chopped, stalks too
- 10-12 garlic pods, roughly crushed
- 6-7 stalks spring onion, white and greens chopped separately
- 1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or roasted sesame oil
- 1-inch piece ginger grated
- Dash black pepper powder
- 1-2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1-2 tsp rice vinegar or plain vinegar
- 1 tsp oyster sauce
- ½ tsp or more Tabasco
- Splash of white wine, optional
- ½ an orange carrot, peeled, julienned
- 1 tsp roasted til or sesame seeds
- 4-5 water chestnuts, boiled, peeled and diced
- Sriracha sauce mixed with dab of mustard paste
- Peel 9-10 perfect leaves off the head of lettuce.
Wash very carefully and completely pat dry.
Wrap in a kitchen towel and refrigerate for an hour or till well chilled and take out just before serving.
- In a frying pan heat the oil over medium heat and add the white of the spring onions and the garlic and saute a minute or two.
Turn the heat up and add the tofu and fry for 4-5 minutes, mixing all the time with a spatula to turn the pieces, till they turn pink.
Add the mushrooms, ginger and cook another 4-5 minutes and then add the soy, vinegar, wine, pepper, oyster sauce, salt, Tabasco.
Then, if using, add the carrots, sesame seeds and water chesnuts.
- Take off heat and garnish with the chopped spring onion greens.
- Place a cold lettuce piece on a medium-sized plate.
- Spoon 4-5 tbsp of tofu-mushroom mixture in the centre and fold or roll and serve with the sriracha-mustard sauce.
Repeat for balance leaves.
Eat with your hands or knife and fork.
Note: Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian oyster sauce is available.
You may consider mixing more exotic mushrooms with the button mushrooms.
Opt for 100 gm dried woodear mushrooms or dried shitake mushrooms, available online.
Soak half an hour before frying and chop fine.
Reduce the quantity of chopped button mushrooms in the recipe to 100 gm.
A dash of fish sauce can satisfy the non-vegetarian palate.
For a Jain offering, knock the white bulbs of the spring onions and the garlic and just use the spring onion greens. Also use ginger powder, allowed in a Jain diet, instead of fresh ginger.
Soy and oyster sauces are both high in sodium. Skip the oyster sauce and opt for low-sodium soy or coconut aminos, now made in India, which is an umami sauce that has usually about 1/3 the quantity of salt that soy has.
Skip the salt in the recipe.