Tag Archives: top secret restaurant recipes

Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps and Veggie Fried Rice

20 Jan

I tried my first recipe from Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3, and if the recipe for  [imitation] P.F. Chang’s “Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps” is any indication of the rest of the recipes in the cookbook, I am very impressed!

I remember the first time I ever ate at P.F. Chang’s. My then-boyfriend (now husband) and I met some of his friends there. We ordered the “vegetarian lettuce wraps” as our appetizer. I was amazed at how flavorful the wraps were. As we were enjoying our appetizer, my boyfriend’s friend asked whether I liked tofu, given that my boyfriend is a vegetarian. I said I wasn’t sure (I had never tried it before). Embarrassingly, I was then informed that the lettuce wraps that I was so thoroughly enjoying indeed contained tofu! Since then, tofu and I have become very well acquainted. But I tell you this story to illustrate that even if you’re not a vegetarian, and even if you have an irrational fear of tofu, you will surely enjoy this dish!

Be aware that the recipe only serves two as an appetizer. Thus, you will also need to make another dish if you want to serve the lettuce wraps with dinner. Staying with the Chinese theme, I decided to serve the wraps with Veggie Fried Rice, and they complimented each other very well.

Top Secret Recipes Version of P.F. Chang’s Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps

Menu Description: “Wok-seared tofu, red onions, water chestnuts with mint and lime. Served with cool lettuce cups.”

Ingredients:

For the Special Sauce:

* 2 tbsp granulated sugar
* 1/2 cup water
* 3 tbsp soy sauce
* 1  tbsp rice vinegar
* 1/8 tsp chili oil
* 2 tbsp chopped green onion
* 1/2 to 1 tsp Chinese hot mustard paste
* 1 to 3 tsp chili garlic sauce

For the Stir-Fry Sauce:

* 2 tbsp plus 2 tsp soy sauce
* 1 tbsp water
* 2 tbsp mirin
* 1 tbsp oyster sauce (note: I omitted this)
* 2 tsp rice vinegar

For Everything Else:

* 3 tbsp vegetable oil
* 4 oz baked tofu (note: or bake your own tofu)
* 8 oz can water chestnuts, drained and minced (about 1 cup)
* 1/4 cup diced red onion (note: regular onion is fine)
* 1 tsp minced garlic
* Juice from a wedge of lime
* 1 tbsp minced mint leaves
* 2 tbsp chopped green onion
* 4 to 5 iceberg lettuce cups

Preparation:

1. Make the special sauce (for spooning over your lettuce wraps) by dissolving the sugar in the water in a small bowl. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, and chili oil. Add the chopped green onion and set the sauce aside until you’re ready to serve the lettuce wraps. Eventually you will add Chinese mustard and garlic chili sauce to this special sauce mixture to pour over each of your lettuce wraps. In the restaurant, waiters prepare the sauce at your table the same way based on your desired heat level. More on that later.

2. Prepare the stir-fry sauce by mixing all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.

3. To prepare the filling for your lettuce wraps, heat 3 tbsp of vegetable oil in a large saute pan or wok over high heat. Slice the tofu into thin strips, slice the strips in half, and then cut through the strips, making a small dice. Chop the water chestnuts into pieces that are about the size of peas.

4. When the oil is hot, add the tofu and saute for about 20 seconds. Add the water chestnuts, red onion, and garlic, and saute for 2 minutes. Add the stir-fry sauce and juice from the wedge of lime and saute for 2 more minutes. Add the mint and green onion.

5. Serve the dish with a side of lettuce cups.. Make these cups by slicing the top off of a head of lettuce right through the middle of the head. Pull your lettuce cups off of the outside of this slice.

6. Prepare the special sauce by adding your desired measurement of hot mustard and chili sauce to the special sauce blend: 1 tsp of chili garlic sauce for mild, 1/2 tsp of mustard paste plus 2 tsp chili garlic sauce for medium, and 1 tsp of mustard paste and 3 tsp of chili garlic sauce for hot. Stir well.

7. Assemble each lettuce wrap by spooning the filling into a lettuce cup, adding special sauce over the top, and eating it like a taco.

Serves two as an appetizer.

Veggie Fried Rice (adapted from Special Fried Rice by Rachael Ray)

Ingredients:

* 2 3/4 cups water
* 1 1/2 cups white rice
* 3 tbsp vegetable oil
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 inches fresh ginger, minced or grated
* 1/2 cup shredded carrots
* 1 small red pepper, diced
* 4 scallions, thinly sliced on an angle
* 1/2 cup frozen peas
* 1/3 cup Tamari (dark aged soy sauce)

Preparation:

1. Bring water to a boil. Add rice, reduce heat, cover and cook over medium low heat until tender, 15 to 18 minutes. Set aside.

2. Heat a wok or large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add oil to the pan. Add garlic and ginger to the pan. Add carrots, pepper, and scallions to the pan and quick stir0fry veggies 2 minutes. Add rice to the pan and combine with veggies. Fry rice with veggies 2 or 3 minutes.  Add peas and soy sauce to the rice and stir fry 1 minute more.

Makes four servings.

A Chinese feast

I suppose I should confess that it was a team effort making both of these dishes, with my  husband tackling the more challenging lettuce wraps (and also embarking on the journey for some of the difficult-to-find ingredients). One of the only adjustments we made was by accident: When I was frying the rice, I accidentally added his “stir fry sauce” for the lettuce wraps to the rice. Thus, he just supplemented his stir-fry sauce with extra soy sauce. It all turned out delicious in the end.

I do recommend seeking out some of the Chinese items that you wouldn’t normally have on hand. It’s always good to try something new, the extra ingredients will last you quite a while, and these dishes are good enough to make again and again!

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