Sunday, June 16, 2013

It's an ALEX! And veggies! Lettuce, veggies, tofu, yum!

Howdy blargsters! Today we have a special treat for you, and it's only sort of the edible kind - a post from ALEX!

To those who think Alex is actually a mystical unicorn, I assure you that he is in fact a real person who runs marathons really fast, fueled entirely by delicious plants!

Today's he's sharing a yummy and nutritious lunch perfect to enjoy on a hot summer day with lavender lemonade and good friends.

Now with real imitation bacon! 
These wraps pack healthy veggies and a protein punch from tofu and mushrooms into a lettuce leaf wrap so NO FORKS ALLOWED! Eat with your hands, and enjoy! :)

Tofu Lettuce Wraps with Shiitake Bacon and Miso Dressing

1 block of tofu 1 lb.
2-4 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp salt or 3 dashes of soy sauce
½ tbsp paprika
½ tbsp. curry powder
Dash or two of white pepper

Shitake Bacon
½ lb of fresh shitake mushrooms
1-2 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp salt
2-4 tsp sugar

Veggie filling
1 sweet bell pepper cut into strips
1-2 cloves of shallots chopped
1 onion cut into strips
4 leaves of kale or collards cut into a shreds
½ of a large eggplant cubed (small)
2 cloves glaric diced

4 tbsp miso paste
6 tsp of soy sauce
2-3 dashes of white pepper
½ Half of the juice of an orange
½ the juice of a lime
4-5 tbsp of water
Optional: chili flakes, chives, cilantro

Ready the veggie feast!
for the tofu
For the tastiest tasting tofu prepare start the marination process an hour before or better yet the day before! First cube the tofu and drain, and place in Tupperware. Add sesame oil, soy sauce, paprika, and curry powder. You could just mix with a spoon, but it’s much more fun to close the top with the cover and shake it all up (sometimes I put on music and dance (~^_^)~). Once it is all well mixed leave in the refrigerator for however long your marinating time is!

After marinating it is time to cook! I like to pan fry the tofu to give the lettuce wraps a nice crisp and fleshy texture with each bite and while you chew. Put about 2 tbsp of canola oil into a nonstick frying pan and wait for the oil to get hot (a good gauge is when the oil loses its viscosity and run across the pan). Then toss in the tofu including the all of your sauce! Fry, while mixing (or tossing) often to make sure all sides of the tofu are nicely browned, when set aside. One way of varying this recipe is instead of cubing the tofu you can cut larger pieces or try different shapes. This will allow you to play with texture of the tofu!

for the shitake “bacon”
Pre heat your oven to about 400 degrees F.
This stuff is delicious! It tastes pretty close to bacon has a nice crispiness and it still has a nice fleshiness that’s slight and is super easy to make! This recipe puts a couple of “Asian-ish” twists on the original recipe. First cut the stems off the mushrooms, these tend to be tough and overly chewy. Then cut the mushrooms lengthwise to give you the longest strips of mushroom possible. Put them into a bowl and cover with your canola and sesame oils, sugar, salt and pepper. Then mix. It will seem like the mushrooms aren’t getting covered well with the oil, don’t worry; when we bake the mushrooms the oils will seep out of the mushrooms and help cook other pieces that were not covered as well.

This "bacon" needs some bakin'!
Find a good baking pan and evenly distribute your mushrooms across the pan. There is no need to oil it since your mushrooms have enough oil in them already. Place in the middle of the oven while checking every 2-3 min to mix. Usually about 15 min will produce a nice crispy but still a bit fleshy mushroom, however don’t neglect checking on mushrooms and mixing. Checking and mixing will help them cook evenly and will give you an opportunity to pick out smaller piece of mushroom that will cook faster than larger pieces. Once all the mushrooms are cooked you can empty them into a bowl and snack on them! They are really tasty; just don’t eat them all before you’re done cooking the rest of the stuff!

Into the oven!
for the veggie filling
Get a large pan or wok, and put it on high heat. Throw in your oil and wait for it to get hot (It should be runny and when you hover your hand over the oil and should feel hot). First toss in your onions, shallots, and garlic, and peppers. You want to constantly hear that nice stir fry hissing sound the entire time you are cooking this! When the onions and peppers are about half way cooked through throw in your cubed eggplant and continue stirring and frying. Once your onions and eggplant are translucent toss in your greens, cook for about a minute while constantly stirring, and then take off the heat. The food is still hot and will continue to cook, so taking the pan off the heat will help prevent us from over cooking the veggies.

Prepped and pretty!
You will notice that we did not season these veggies; this is because the dressing we will be making for the wrap will use miso paste and some soy sauce so it will be plenty salt after that.

Resist eating ALL THE VEGGIES!
for the dressing
Get some warm water (not hot) and slowly dissolve the miso paste into it making sure that it is all thoroughly and uniformly dissolved. Then add in mix in everything else! Easy!

"Let-us" put some veggies on this lettuce! 
When you are ready to eat, wash about 4-6 pieces of lettuce. Lay them on a plate concave side up and spoon in about 2-3 spoonful’s of stuffing and then on top of that add 1-2 spoonful’s of tofu. Sprinkle on your shitake bacon, and add one spoonful of your dressing. Then curl the sides towards the center and then fold the more flexible top potion toward the center, and then enjoy!

Enjoy! :)


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