These tempeh lettuce wraps are made from crunchy lettuce leaves stuffed with pan-fried tempeh cubes in a savory sesame ginger sauce.
The idea of lettuce wraps perplexed me for a while. My brother waited tables at P.F. Chang’s when he was in college. I never made it in there for dinner, but he suggested that if I did stop in I should try the tofu lettuce wraps. This would be back when I was in my early twenties. My response back then was to ask why on earth would one use lettuce when the world is filled with perfectly good carbohydrate-laden tortillas, rice paper and spring roll wrappers. I lived for that kind of stuff.
Anyhow, I didn’t give lettuce wraps much thought during the decade between now and then. At least, not until I started thinking about summer food and the big lettuce leaves springing up from my garden. (On a side note, I’ve been running out to the garden at lunchtime to pick greens for my lunch salad. This is very exciting to me.) Lettuce wraps now make perfect, delicious sense. Putting all the carbohydrates-are-bad-for-me nonsense (or sense?) aside, a big crispy leaf of lettuce is a way more appetizing dinner vehicle during those famous Pennsylvania summer 90% humidity days. And I’m not gonna lie: I thought I’d still be hungry after eating a lettuce wrap. I was not. These were incredibly satisfying. Lettuce might just be the new tortilla…in my kitchen at least.
Ginger Sesame Tempeh Lettuce Wraps
- juice of 1 lemon
- 3 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp. agave or maple syrup
- 2 tsp. Asian chili paste
- 1 tbsp. fresh grated ginger
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 8 oz. package tempeh cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 2 tsp. vegetable oil
- 2 carrots cut into matchsticks
- 2-3 large lettuce leaves such as bibb or romaine
- 2 scallions chopped
- 1 tbsp. sesame seeds
- In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, agave, chili paste, ginger and garlic. Add cubed tempeh and toss to coat.
- If you've got some time, let the tempeh marinade for a half hour or so, tossing tempeh every so often to recoat. Otherwise, you can skip this step.
- Heat vegetable oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add cubed tempeh and any marinade left in your bowl. Stir-fry tempeh cubes until lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add carrots and stir-fry for another minute.
- Divide mixture onto lettuce leaves and top with scallions and sesame seeds. Roll lettuce leaves up like tacos (or burritos, or eat with a fork...whatever you're into) and dig in.