Crispy Sesame Tofu and Mushroom Lettuce Wraps

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Crispy Sesame Tofu and Mushroom Lettuce Wraps are a light yet flavorful Asian-inspired dinner perfect for summer. Tofu and oyster mushrooms are baked on a sheet pan, then doused in a spicy almond-sesame sauce and served in lettuce wraps.
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Total Time: 1 hr

A few weeks ago, I filmed a “what I eat in a day” type video for Youtube. Since I wanted to keep things casual, I did what I do most evenings for dinner: make a recipe on the fly with ingredients I wanted to use up. That’s how these Crispy Sesame Tofu and Mushroom Lettuce Wraps came about.

I’ve made crispy baked tofu before, I’ve made lettuce wraps before, and I’ve made variations of this sauce before, but I’ve never combined them together in one recipe. And let me tell you, the combination was straight tasty cakes.

My first time enjoying lettuce wraps was at P.F. Changs in high school. Then, as my palate expanded, I tried a few more varieties of lettuce wraps, including Larb Gai, minced meat served in lettuce wraps popular in Thailand and Laos (in my pre-vegan days, obviously).

This version is inspired by all of the above but is of course vegan!

Crispy Sesame Tofu and Mushroom Lettuce Wraps. vegan lettuce wraps.

Why you’re going to like these tofu lettuce wraps

Light yet filling. These lettuce wraps are light and refreshing yet addictively good and they don’t skimp on flavor. Unlike many lettuce wraps/cups, these are actually satiating! This combination makes them the perfect summer dinner!

Healthy yet indulgent. Meaty mushrooms, chewy yet crispy tofu, a creamy spicy almond-sesame sauce – paired together, they taste indulgent. When paired with lettuce wraps, it’s the perfect balance of healthy and indulgent.

Weeknight-friendly. If you can multitask (i.e., make the sauce and soak/cook the rice noodles  while the tofu and mushrooms cook), this meal takes 45 minutes to make. Okay, you need to press the tofu beforehand, but that takes 1 minute. Okay, fine, 46 minutes!

Flavor explosion. This recipe is so packed with flavor that I promise even the biggest vegan skeptics will enjoy it. Max is an alleged hater of tofu and mushrooms and he couldn’t get enough of this dish.

Crispy Sesame Tofu and Mushroom Lettuce Wraps. vegan lettuce wraps.

How to make tofu lettuce wraps

One thing I love about this recipe is the tofu and mushrooms can be cooked on sheet pans together in the oven at the same temperature. They both need roughly the same cook time so you could even cook them on the same sheet pan (hey, sheet pan dinner!).

For this recipe, however, the quantity of food is too great to fit on one pan, so I give the tofu and mushrooms their own pan. But, if you were cutting the recipe in half, you could put them on the same pan.

For the tofu, you’ll need extra-firm tofu and you need to press it before using. If you skip this step, your tofu will be water-logged and won’t crisp up in the oven.

To press the tofu, place the tofu on a cutting board lined with paper towels; place more paper towels on top of the tofu and weight them down with a heavy cookbook or a heavy skillet filled with a few cans of beans. Let sit for 20-30 minutes to remove excess water.

Once the tofu has been pressed, chop it into cubes. Then toss with a mixture of neutral-flavored oil (I use grapeseed oil), toasted sesame oil (one of my favorite ingredients), tamari/soy sauce and a pinch of salt.

Then, you’ll toast the tofu with three ingredients that provide the crispy exterior coating: arrowroot powder (or cornstarch), panko bread crumbs, and sesame seeds.

Panko are Japanese-style bread crumbs and I love how flaky and light they are. If you are gluten-free, you can find gluten-free panko.

Crispy Sesame Tofu and Mushroom Lettuce Wraps. vegan lettuce wraps.

For the mushrooms, I used oyster mushrooms because they are incredibly meaty in texture. In fact, they are often used as a substitute for chicken. When paired with the chewy tofu, it feels like a truly hearty meal that even diehard omnivores would enjoy. Flavorwise, oyster mushrooms have a savory yet mild flavor and are not earthy like some other mushrooms.

Oyster mushrooms are not very dirty compared to many other mushroom varieties, so you just need to dab them with a damp towel. Then, slice of the tough woody ends. Use your hands to separate the bunches into individual mushrooms; for large mushrooms, slice them in half.

Toss the mushrooms with a bit of neutral flavored oil, salt, and pepper. Oyster mushrooms are flavorful that they don’t need much more!

If you can’t find oyster mushrooms, you can substitute shiitake mushrooms. Remove the caps and slice them, but not too thinly.

Spread out the tofu cubes and mushroom pieces on rimmed sheet pans and bake in the oven until the tofu is crispy and browned, and the mushrooms are beautifully golden browned.

Crispy Sesame Tofu and Mushroom Lettuce Wraps. vegan lettuce wraps.

How to make Spicy Almond-Sesame Sauce

This is one of my absolute favorite sauces. It’s heavily adapted from a recipe in my cookbook for Sweet Potatoes with Cashew Sriracha Sauce, and it’s so good, I promise you’ll want to eat it by the spoon. The recipe takes inspiration from both Thai and Chinese cuisines, and it is packed with so much flavor.

It features some of my favorite ingredients: almond butter makes this sauce creamy and rich; the Sriracha gives the sauce a spicy kick; toasted sesame oil brings that irresistible and unique nutty fragrance and depth of flavor; ginger adds that lovely sweet-spicy zinginess; agave helps balance the spiciness and acidity of the vinegar; tamari brings the salty, umami flavors; and garlic, well, just makes everything more flavorful.

Speaking of vinegar, I typically use rice vinegar/rice wine vinegar in sauces like this, but I recently bought some Chinese black vinegar so I used it in this recipe. It’s more potent in flavor than regular rice vinegar, so I used half the amount.

Chinese black vinegar is also rice-based but it comes from black glutinous rice and it also contains other grains, like wheat. So, if you are strictly gluten-free, you should avoid it and stick to rice vinegar. The flavor is quite bold—almost smoky but a little sweet.

To make the sauce relatively smooth, I heat up the almond butter in the microwave to make it more stirrable. Then whisk in the remaining ingredients. If you want the sauce to be ultra smooth, just add all the ingredients to a food processor.

Crispy Sesame Tofu and Mushroom Lettuce Wraps. vegan lettuce wraps.

Tips for making this recipe 

1. To make things efficient as possible, start by pressing the tofu. After the tofu has been pressed, the rest of the recipe takes 45 minutes. Of course, you need to multitask.

Once you’ve put the tofu and mushrooms in the onions, start cooking the rice noodles. For some packages, that just requires you to soak noodles in hot water for 10 minutes, which couldn’t be easier. Also, take the time to make the almond-sesame sauce and get your lettuce wraps/cups ready.

2. If you like your tofu extra chewy, I recommend draining your block of tofu and then freezing it (wrap it in plastic or place it in an airtight container). Then, defrost/thaw the block of tofu in the fridge overnight before using. Obviously, this requires some advance planning. I have gotten into the habit of just leaving a block of tofu in the freezer.

Crispy Sesame Tofu and Mushroom Lettuce Wraps. vegan lettuce wraps.

If you want to see the full “what I eat in a day” video, be sure to watch below. Or, you can skip to the dinner portion of the video at the 14:00 mark to watch this recipe being made.

Crispy Sesame Tofu and Mushroom Lettuce Wraps

5 from 6 votes
Crispy Sesame Tofu and Mushroom Lettuce Wraps are a light yet flavorful Asian-inspired dinner perfect for summer. Tofu and oyster mushrooms are baked on a sheet pan, then doused in a spicy almond-sesame sauce and served in lettuce wraps.
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: Chinese-Inspired, Thai-Inspired
Keyword: gluten-free, mushrooms, tofu, wraps
Serving size: 4

Ingredients

Tofu and Mushrooms

  • 1 (14- or 16-ounce / 400-454g) block of extra-firm tofu
  • 16 ounces (454g) of oyster mushrooms (can substitute shiitake mushrooms)
  • 2 - 2 1/2 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil (I used grapeseed oil, divided)
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce (use tamari for gluten-free)
  • 1 tablespoons arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs (if gluten-free, use GF panko or GF bread crumbs)
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds or white sesame seeds
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 small batch of rice noodles (4 to 6 ounces, or 115 to 170g)

Spicy Almond-Sesame Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons smooth, creamy almond butter
  • 1/2 to 1 ½ tablespoons Sriracha
  • 1/2 tablespoon black vinegar, or 1 tablespoon rice vinegar*
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar (or maple syrup)
  • 1/2 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce (use tamari for gluten-free)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1- inch piece fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 large head of Bibb or butterhead lettuce**
  • Garnishes: chopped cilantro, chopped chives or scallions, and sesame seeds

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F/218°C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (so the tofu and mushrooms don’t stick to the pan).
  • Drain the tofu and press it (how to press tofu instructions are in the blog post under the section “How to make crispy sesame tofu and mushrooms”).
  • Prepare the tofu. Once pressed, chop the tofu into small cubes. Place tofu cubes in a medium or large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the neutral-flavored oil, the 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, the 1 tablespoon tamari, and 2 pinches of kosher salt. Toss to combine. Then add the arrowroot powder, panko, and sesame seeds. Gently toss to combine, using a spoon or your hands. Spread the tofu out in a single layer on the lined baking sheet.
  • Prepare the mushrooms. Clean off the oyster mushrooms them with a damp towel. Then, slice of the tough woody ends. Use your hands to separate the bunches into individual mushrooms; for large mushrooms, slice them in half. Add the mushrooms to the same bowl used for the tofu; toss with the remaining 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place the mushrooms on another lined baking sheet.
  • Bake the tofu and mushrooms. Bake the tofu for 25-30 minutes until crispy and browned, tossing halfway through. Bake the mushrooms until the bottom side is blistered and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and flip each of the mushrooms; return the sheet to the oven until the other side is golden, another 15 minutes.
  • While the tofu and mushrooms are baking, cook the rice noodles according to the package. When they are done cooking, drain the noodles.
    1. You can serve the noodles whole, but for ease of eating, I like to use scissors to cut the noodles into bite-sized pieces.
  • While the tofu and mushrooms are baking, make the Spicy Almond-Sesame Sauce. Add the almond butter to a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 25 seconds to help loosen it up. Then add the remaining ingredients except for the water and whisk well to combine. Then, stream in the water and whisk to thin out the sauce until pourable but still thick.
  • Assemble the lettuce wraps: Separate the lettuce leaves. Spoon a small amount of the cooked rice noodles on top, followed by the baked tofu and mushrooms. Spoon the sauce on top. Repeat with remaining lettuce and fillings.

Notes

* If gluten-free, use rice vinegar instead of black vinegar, which contains grains. Also confirm that your rice vinegar contains only rice, not other grains (some varieties do).
** I love butterhead and bib lettuce, but if you can’t find those, you can use romaine or iceberg lettuce.

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9 comments on Crispy Sesame Tofu and Mushroom Lettuce Wraps

  1. Lynn A.

    I made these a few days after you posted them to Youtube and I gotta say, you exceeded my expectations. I never thought lettuce wraps could be so delicious. I went easy on the Sriracha for the kids but wow, just wow!

  2. Gen_Alberts

    I was looking for a recipe that was light but also filling for dinner since we are going through a heat wave. Even though I had to use the stove to cook that meal, it was worth it to sweat a little :)

    That was sooo delicious ! You have done it again ! The peanut sauce was flavorful although I think I might have added too much ginger since mine was already minced so maybe half a teaspoon would have been enough instead of a full teaspoon (for my 5 year old daughter’s taste. I didn’t use sriracha and it was still super yummy.

    My daughter was happy to see we could make wraps with salad, that was a new fun dinner idea for her. She loved it too !

    Thanks again for the lovely recipe and also to often have options of maple syrup instead of agave syrup. My uncle produces some and it’s good in all kinds of recipes!

  3. Lauren

    I love how you provide substitutions in the recipe! It is really helpful especially when trying to not over buy / keep food waste low! Thank you!

  4. Rachel

    Wow. This dish was amazing. Tofu is so crispy and delicious. The combination of flavors and textures was delightful. Also, kept me very full!

  5. Natasha

    These were much easier than I expected, and soooo flavorful!! My husband actively dislikes tofu and mushrooms, and he devoured these. I will say that although we both eat fairly light, we got closer to three servings, not four—maybe because I always feel hungry an hour after eating rice?
    I still have leftovers in the fridge, and I’m already excited to make these again. Thank you for a delicious and doable recipe!!!

  6. Sarah Castillo

    Quite tasty.Non vegan husband LOVED it.I will reduce the bake time slightly for the tofu. Mine got a bit too crispy/hard.Had leftovers the next day as a salad; still delicious.Thanks for the recommendations for substitutions.

  7. Maxine

    5 stars
    Love these lettuce wraps! They are much easier to make than I expected and easy to customize with what you already have. I used baby bella mushrooms and they came out great.

    For the sauce, I used peanut butter instead of almond butter, lemon juice instead of rice vinegar, honey instead of agave nectar, and no sesame oil or ginger (just used what I had!) and the sauce still came out delicious. Next time, I’ll use a little less sweetener (I prefer less sweet food but the honey could have been too much also).

    I would HIGHLY recommend making these! I normally prefer one pot/tray/IP meals (which is why I love Nisha’s IP cookbook), but these delicious lettuce wraps are definitely easier to make than I thought they’d be and well worth the little extra prep/dishes.

  8. Lisa Marie Heisler

    5 stars
    This recipe was fabulous! I made it for dinner tonight and prepared a beautiful plate for my husband and wanted to take a picture to post but he ate half of it bef6re i even sat down!

  9. Emilie

    5 stars
    I don’t usually take the time to leave reviews (sorry!) but this was so exceptional I had no choice. Super easy to bring everything together while tofu and mushrooms are in the oven, light but filling, and very flavourful! That sauce!!! Delicious. Thank you Nisha!

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