These lettuce cups scream summer! They are the perfect appetizer, light lunch, or snack. I am pretty obsessed with fresh rolls or anything rolled up in a lettuce wrap for that matter. A few years back, I tried some vegetarian rolls from Monsoon, which were essentially a crispy vegetable spring roll served with fresh rice noodles and lettuce. You then dip the spring roll wrapped in rice noodles and lettuce into the most amazing sauce and shove it all in your mouth. It was the most amazing flavor combination - crispy, chewy and a freshness that was crazy good. This is where my obsession with fried foods wrapped in lettuce began. I had a similar experience a few years later at Cafe Flora, which really just confirmed my love of fried food wrapped in lettuce. They have these coconut tofu lettuce wraps - coconut breaded tofu, crisp romaine, fresh herbs and a sweet chili sauce - that are crazy good. I like to go there at least once or twice a month just to get my coconut tofu lettuce fix.
I wanted to make a similar version at home, something that we could all enjoy as a family. It's been extra steamy in Seattle these past few weeks, so having something light for dinner is exactly what we are craving. You can prepare the lettuce cups beforehand, or you can place all of the fixings on the kitchen table and make it a hands-on affair. People really enjoy putting together food, it feels a lot like crafting in a way. Making something beautiful with the people you love. I love dinners like this, that provide a bit of fun and entertainment.
These crispy coconut battered tofu bites are really good. I mean, really really good. I caught myself a few times grabbing a handful to snack on while preparing the rest of the ingredients, which was kind of dangerous. I came close to eating all of the tofu before dinner was even ready. I used some thin vermicelli noodles, a sweet mango, sliced avocado, and some fresh butter lettuce for the cups. I made a tangy and sweet dipping sauce, the same recipe I used for my tofu dumplings. They turned out really great. We are planning to make them again this weekend!
LETTUCE CUPS WITH CRISPY COCONUT TOFU, RICE NOODLES, MANGO AND AVOCADO
tofu recipe adapted from
makes 10 lettuce cups
prep time: 1 hour
cooking time: 20 minutes
10 - 14oz firm or sprouted tofu
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp corn starch
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
3/4 cup shredded coconut, sweetened
1/4 cup canola oil for frying
10 leaves of bibb or butter lettuce
1 cup cooked thin rice noodles
1 mango, diced
1 avocado, sliced
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp honey
Drain the tofu. Press out any extra water with a paper towel. Cut into 1/2 inch cubes.
In a medium bowl, combine the soy sauce, maple syrup, and rice wine vinegar. Add the chopped tofu and toss. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight. Occasionally stir the tofu making sure that all of it has a chance to be covered by the marinade.
Before you begin to fry the tofu, wash the lettuce and rip off 10 leaves. Cooke the rice noodles, chop the mango, slice the avocado and prepare the dipping sauce. This will make to easier to put together the lettuce cups while the tofu is still warm.
Drain the tofu and discard the marinade. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, corn starch, baking powder, and cold water with a wire whisk until you get a thick batter, but still pourable.
In a separate bowl combine the breadcrumbs and coconut.
Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium-high.
Take a few tofu pieces and dip them into the batter. This is easily done with a thin wire strainer. Next, dip them into the coconut panko mixture. Place the tofu into the oil and fry until golden brown and crispy.
Place onto a few pieces of paper towel to drain any excess oil. Continue until all of the tofu has been fried.
Prepare the lettuce cups with some rice noodles, a few pieces of tofu, chopped mango, and sliced avocado. Serve with dipping sauce on the side.