I used to make these lettuce wraps with chicken mince because that’s what the recipe told me to. But I barely eat minced meat anymore, since processed meat is so easy to replace.
As I was pondering summer foods it hit me this would be super easy to veganize, and so here we are.
How to veganize fish sauce
The original recipe calls for fish sauce. I’ve been meaning to try switching that out for miso paste mixed with water and I have to say it works a treat. Thai yellow soy bean sauce might be a better fit, but as I always have a tub of miso laying around that’s what I use.
Laotian larb or laab proper uses toasted rice, but as I prefer to keep it simple I’ve left that out.
What you’ll need
You’ll need my recipe for minced tofu, but I’ve also written it out in the recipe below for your convenience.
Tofu laab gai - Laotian lettuce wraps
- Heavy pot or other heavy object
- Kitchen towels
- Big bowl
- Small bowl
- Large frying pan or skillet
For the tofu - optional, you can use store bought (vegan) mince
- 9 oz - 250 gr firm tofu get it from an Asian supermarket and thank me later
- 1/2 T - 7 gr corn flour other starches also work
- pinch salt
- neutral oil for shallow frying, I use sunflower
For the tofu larb gai
- 2 T - 30 gr corn flour rice flours also works
- 3 T - 45 ml water
- 2 T - 30 ml lime juice
- 1/2 T - 7.5 gr miso paste
- 2 T - 30 gr brown sugar
- 1 T - 15 gr grated ginger
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 stalk lemon grass dry leaves removed, white core finely chopped
- 2 bird's eye chilies deseeded and finely chopped
- 1 small shallot thinly sliced
- 1/3 c - 40 gr coriander leaves
- 1/3 c - 40 gr mint leaves
- 3 T - 45 gr peanuts or cashews roughly crushed
- 8-10 small lettuce leaves I prefer butterhead or little gems
Prep the tofu, optional - you can also use store bought (vegan) mince
- Press 9 oz - 250 gr of tofu by placing it between some kitchen towels and placing a heavy object on top for 30 minutes or so.
- Crumble the tofu into a bowl. The pieces should remain of uneven in size and shape, as if you've fried off some actual minced meat in a frying pan.
- Thinly coat the crumbled tofu with 1/2 T - 7 gr corn flour or any starch at hand and season with salt.
To make the tofu larb gai
- If you are using store bought (vegan) mince start here.
- Fry the crumbled tofu in a thin layer of sunflower oil in a (non-stick) frying pan. Do this in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan and ensure crisp. Fry the tofu until golden and partially crispy, remove the tofu from the pan and set aside on a plate lined with kitchen towel.
- Make a slushy paste with 2 T - 30 gr of corn flour, 3 T - 45 ml of water, 2 T - 30 ml of lime juice, 1/2 T - 7.5 gr miso and 2 T - 30 gr of brown sugar and set aside.
- Reheat the oil you fried the tofu in, or refresh the oil if you prefer and heat that.
- Add 1 T - 15 gr of ginger, 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic, 1 finely chopped white core of a stalk of lemon grass and 2 finely chopped bird's eye chilies and saute for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Be sure to move on to the next step before the garlic burns as burnt garlic is not nice.
- Add the slushy paste while stirring vigorously until the sauce thickens, THIS HAPPENS VERY FAST and remove from the heat.
- Stir in the tofu mince, 1 thinly sliced shallot and 3/4 of the coriander and mint leaves until all is evenly distributed and coated in a thin layer of sauce.
Serve the tofu larb gai
- Serve in or alongside lettuce leaves. Garnish with the remainder of the mint and coriander and crushed peanuts or cashews if desired.