Friday, September 14, 2012

Tofu Mushroom Lettuce Wrap

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Yes, I realize it's about time I should blog something yummy.

Third week of dietetic internship went by fast. Earlier this week I traveled to out-the-middle-of-nowhere to Wheeling, West Virginia (north of West Virginia, almost near Pittsburgh), where I attended an in-service with the nutrition outreach educators of West Virginia University Extension - Family Nutrition Program. The interns and I stayed at a resort on top of a hill with gorgeous mountain views and lots of wild animal sight-seeing. I managed to squeeze in a morning trail run midweek.

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While I was at a beautiful location and felt like I was on vacation, I had to attend endless talks/conferences on nutrition education. On the third day of the in-service, I gave a presentation (or more like 5 presentations in a row for 5 different groups) on food packaging and marketing. It was the by far, most nerve racking experience of the internship. I was not sure how the other nutrition educators would response to my presentation, or what kind of crazy questions I would get. Luckily, by the 5th presentation I was a pro on food packaging and marketing. It felt good when some of the audience were making notes as I was speaking.

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On to my favorite subject, food.
Many people have a secret obsession with P. F. Chang's lettuce wrap. I have only had those lettuce wrap once, and it was delicious but I don't see the obsession. People often ask me where I go to get good Chinese food around town, and I always say there aren't any good ones. I stay away from Chinese take-outs and buffets, as I am kind of embarrassed that those are the only Chinese foods available. I envy those who live in large cities like New York City and San Francisco, where almost-authentic Chinese food is just around the corner.

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About 40% of my cooking is Chinese-borderline-American food. While I don't have rice everyday like my parents do, it's still a staple in my house. I have been following Asian-inspired recipes from cooking magazines that sometimes I forget how to make real Chinese food.

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Everything I learn about cooking was self-taught during college. But I know real Chinese food when I taste one. Hmm...dim sum, anyone?

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Tofu Mushroom Lettuce Wrap
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

1 teaspoon canola oil
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/2 cup water (or more for thinner sauce)
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
4 teaspoons hoisin sauce
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro 

1 (14-ounce) package extra-firm tofu, drained and crumbled
6 oz button mushrooms, chopped finely
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
6 thinly sliced green onions (about 2/3 cup), divided
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, divided
3 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha
1 cup matchstick-cut cucumbers
1 cup matchstick-cut carrots
2 cups hot cooked brown rice
8 Bibb lettuce leaves

  1. To prepare sauce, heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shallot, and sauté for 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water and next 3 ingredients (through red pepper), and stir with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in lime juice. Add more water as needed.
  2. To prepare filling, place crumbled tofu in strainer and press down gently to release excess water. Let tofu drain for 20 minutes.
  3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sesame oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add 1/3 cup green onions; sauté 1 minute. Add tofu; sauté for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 2 tablespoons cilantro, soy sauce, ginger, sugar, and Sriracha; sauté 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in cucumbers, carrots, and remaining green onions.
  4. Spoon 1/4 cup rice into each lettuce leaf. Top with about 1/2 cup tofu mixture; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cilantro. Serve with sauce.

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