Kung Pao Lettuce Cups
"Kung Pao" usually refers
to a Northern Chinese chicken dish made with diced vegetables, hot
chilies, and peanuts. In this crunchy salad, the peanuts and diced
vegetables are still present, but the chicken has turned into tofu.
No cooking is necessary-just chop everything, toss it together,
fill the lettuce cups, and sprinkle on the toppings. This makes a
great, light summer lunch.
- You can use plain firm
tofu or one of the baked, seasoned varieties avaliable in natural
- Be sure to use seasoned
rice vinegar (check the label). It has a sweet/salty flavor that is
essential to the success of this dish.
- The ingredients in Step 1
can be assembled several days in advance, then stored tightly
covered in the refrigerator. Assemble everything else shortly
6 medium-sized carrots, in small dice
3 celery stalks, in small dice
1 5-ounce can water chestnuts, rinsed, drained, and diced (about
3/4 cup diced)
4 scallions, finely minced
A handful of cilantro, minced
3/4 pound firm tofu, cut in small cubes
1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar (possibly more, to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes or chili oil to taste
6 small leaves of butter (aka Boston) lettuce, cleaned, dried, and
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted thoroughly
2/3 cup lightly toasted peanuts
A handful of snow peas, trimmed and cut in very thin strips on the
- In a medium-sized bowl,
combine the carrots, celery, water chestnuts, scallions, cilantro,
tofu, and seasoned rice vinegar. Mix well, and add salt and
pepper-and red pepper flakes or chili oil- to taste, if
- Arrange the lettuce leaves like small bowls on a serving
platter or on individual plates, and divide the salad evenly among
the lettuce cups.
- Top with a scattering of green peas and peanuts, and, if
they're available, some sliced snow peas.