Recently, as a thank-you for the friends who renovated our kitchen, we made food for 100 guests at a party that traditionally has been all about BBQ. We wondered how our dishes would be received by people who might not usually gravitate toward vegetarian food. It wasn’t like we were going to serve “a bunch of tofu or something,” we reassured the hosts. That might be too crazy to do for this crowd.
But we ended up doing just that when we made these cabbage wraps! Tofu has a great, meaty texture when it’s cooked correctly, and it just makes sense here in an Asian-inspired dish. These wraps are packed with vegetables, and the peanut sauce that accompanies them is awesome even on its own.
We want everybody to be surprised by how amazing healthy food can be, so go on and make these for your next party or have them for dinner one night this week. We think they’ll win you over, too.
- 1 head of napa cabbage
- 1 8-ounce package crimini mushrooms
- 2 medium carrots (roughly chopped)
- 1 red bell pepper (roughly chopped, remove seeds to reduce spiciness)
- 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled q 3 large cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
- 1 8-ounce package extra-firm tofu (drained, cubed) q 1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
Spicy Peanut Sauce (recipe follows)
Spicy Peanut Sauce
- 1/4 cup peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sriracha
- 1 tablespoon Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or traditional soy sauce) q 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
- 2 to 3 tablespoons water
- Add the peanut butter, sesame oil, rice vinegar, sriracha, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce), mirin, and ginger into a food processor. Blend until smooth.
- Add enough water to form a thick, but pourable sauce.
- Cut napa cabbage in half; reserve leaves for the wraps and set aside. Cut the root end off of the cabbage and discard. Place the remaining cabbage in the food processor and pulse 5 to 6 times until finely chopped but not mushy. Place chopped cabbage in a large bowl and set aside.
- Place mushrooms into the food processor and pulse 5 times until finely chopped. Add them to the bowl with the cabbage. Place the carrots and bell pepper in the food processor and repeat the process of pulsing
- 5 times. Add this to the vegetable mixture.
- Place the ginger and garlic in the food processor and pulse. Add this to the vegetable mixture along with the five-spice, black pepper, and salt.
- Put a wok or large frying pan over the highest heat on the stovetop, and let it heat up until wisps of smoke rise up from the hot metal. Carefully pour in one tablespoon of olive oil and wait for it to start to smoke.
- Now, put the tofu into the wok and give it a shake—be aware that it may pop and splatter. Let the tofu rest in the hot pan without being disturbed for 45 seconds before tossing to redistribute it. Flip the tofu two additional times; after each flip, allow tofu to cook for 1 minute or until nicely browned.
- Remove tofu from the wok and place it into the food processor along with the peanuts. Pulse the food processor 5 times until mixture is finely chopped.
- Add the remaining olive oil to the hot wok. Repeat the same stir-frying process with the vegetable mixture. Once the mixture looks dry, add the tofu and peanut mixture and toss to incorporate. Spoon mixture onto a serving platter. Garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve alongside the reserved cabbage leaves and sauce.
Husband-and-wife team Justin Fox Burks and Amy Lawrence are the authors of the cookbook The Southern Vegetarian: 100 Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Table (Thomas Nelson 2013). Burks and Lawrence participated in the Enlightened Eaters series at the James Beard House in New York City. Their recipes and blog, thechubbyvegetarian.com, have been featured by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Kitchn, Woman’s Day, Local Palate, The Huffington Post, P. Allen Smith’s Garden Style, The Food Network, Memphis Magazine, and Edible Memphis. Currently, they are developing new recipes that will become a part of their second cookbook. Instagram and Twitter: @chubbyveg