Tofu Larb in Lettuce Cups 01/23/13
"This is, by a long way, the only delicious thing I’ve ever made with scrambled tofu." Michelle Edwards tests out a recipe from Luscious Vegetarian.
Larb, or laab, is a Thai snack that traditionally contains minced meat (pork or duck), mixed with chillies and herbs, and wrapped in a lettuce leaf. I tried the real thing in Phuket a few years ago, so I was very keen to make my own version with scrambled tofu. This is, by a long way, the only delicious thing I’ve ever made with scrambled tofu, and I’m sure the secret is the marinade of lime juice, fresh grated ginger and soy sauce that the blocks of tofu languish in before you fry ‘em.
The tofu is then fried and scrambled – I made mine quite fine so that the crumbly bits were about the same size as the finely chopped chillies, red onion and mint and coriander leaves that the cooked, cooled tofu was mixed with. The recipe also called for fresh lime leaves, but I left these out. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fresh lime leaf in my life.
You’ll have to take my word for it that the monochrome cooked tofu turned into a beautiful, colourful, speckled dish when it was mixed with all the lovely fresh red and green herbs and things. I would have loved to have got a picture of it, but I really didn’t get a chance. After putting the tofu mixture and soft lettuce leaves out on the table, I went back inside to get the crushed roasted peanuts (for sprinkling and extra crunch), and by the time I got back, the steak-and-chips guys I was cooking for had started digging in, and were already halfway through their second larb cup. I abandoned the camera, and dug in with them – at that rate, there’d be none left for me.
They agreed monosyllabically (with full mouths) that the cups were even better with the peanuts, and that, as a DIY snack, tofu larb is the bomb.
We loved it so much that the recipe that should have been enough for four wasn’t enough for three. We polished it all off and could have done with more. One of the guys even resorted to using tiny shreds of lettuce to scoop up the remaining bits of crumble in the dish, saying, “This stuff is awesome. And I thought tofu was supposed to be gross.”
So this fresh, tangy, salty, crunchy little starter converted a red-meat lover into a fan of tofu. Which is high praise indeed.
3T soy sauce
1T grated fresh ginger
3T lime juice
400g firm tofu, cubed
1T peanut oil
1T finely minced lemongrass, tender inner part only
1t crushed fresh garlic (optional)
3/4 cup mint leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup coriander leaves, chopped
5 fresh lime leaves, finely chopped (optional)
1 small red onion, peeled and very finely chopped
2 small red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped 4 gem lettuces or 1 iceberg, split into individual leaves, rinsed and dried
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
1. Pour the soy sauce, ginger and lime juice over the tofu and marinate for 30 minutes.
2. Heat thepeanut oil in a pan over medium heat and cook the tofu, stirring quite vigorously so it crumbles, for about 10 minutes.
3. Remove from hear and scoop into a glass dish. Cool completely before mixing very well with the remaining ingredients except the lettuce and peanuts.
4. Serve by spooning some larb into a lettuce leaf, sprinkle over some peanuts and munch away.