Recipe: Tofu Laab

Do you have a food that you always want when you're sick? It's probably something like noodle soup or mashed potatoes. Toast even. More recently in life this has become my sick go to food. I think I was sick when my dad came to town once and he dragged me down to the local Thai restaurant for the spiciest Laab we could get. My nose ran like crazy, my eyes watered and somehow I was feeling better already. You don't have to go full blown spicy on this one to really appreciate it. The flavors are perfectly paired together. 

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For me this is the perfect light meal. It is really satisfying and flavorful. You could even go in for seconds and not feel a twinge of guilt. 

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It also can be a super classy appetizer that you serve to friends. Or a first course if you're into that kind of thing. (I just pile all of the food one the table and people can eat what they want when they want.) Oh and you can just chop up the lettuce if you want and eat it salad style. That's actually my favorite way.

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I'm not making any claims to authenticity here. It's vegan so that kind of changes the whole thing. And I wanted to include ingredients that are accessible to everyone (the exception MAY be miso paste. If you can't find that i'll have the substitute listed in the recipe.) It still captures the full essence of the dish and I've included something that no Laab would be complete without: toasted rice powder.  You can buy it at an Asian market but it's just as easy to make at home. It adds a special toasty almost nutty flavor that feels essential. I tried it without the rice powder and it was still great - so if you want to leave out that step because you are in a hurry that will be fine. But - BIG BUT - it's far better with it. So try it with the powder at least once.

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Tofu Laab

serves 4

1 lb package extra firm tofu, drained and pat dry

5 cloves garlic, minced

2-4 serrano (or jalapeno) peppers, minced

6 green onions, sliced (you could substitute 1-2 shallots here if you like.) 

3 Tablespoons low sodium tamari

juice of 2 limes

2 teaspoons agave nectar (or raw sugar)

1 Tablespoon miso paste (or substitute 1 Tablespoon Tamari if you can't find it) 

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/3 cup chopped mint

1-2 romaine lettuce hearts (the inner leaves) 

1/4 cup white rice

To make the toasted rice powder:

Set a large pan over medium heat and add the rice. You're going to cook it until it is lightly golden and smells toasty. It took about 10 minutes. I suggest shaking the pan every minute or so to make sure that it is evenly toasted. Once golden brown take out and let cool. Grind the cooled rice in a coffee grinder, mortar and pestle, small food processor or with your hand blender (immersion blender.) You want it to be as fine as possible because large chunks will be hard on your teeth. I used the immersion blender with great success. You won't be using all of it in this recipe but it stores well. 

  • Set a nonstick pan over medium high heat. 
  • Hand grate your tofu with the large sized grate holes (I don't know the technical term here!) straight into the pan. 
  • Add in 1 Tablespoon tamari and stir. 
  • Cook until lightly browned. 
  • Add in the minced garlic and half of the green onions. Cook for about 1 minute longer.
  • Set aside to let cool. 
  • Now mix together the remaining 2 Tablespoons of tamari, lime juice, minced serrano peppers, agave and miso paste.  
  • Pour the mixture over the cooked tofu and add in 3 Tablespoons of the toasted rice powder. 
  • Mix the cilantro, mint and remaining green onions into the tofu mixture and serve with lettuce leaves. You can also chop the lettuce up and serve the Laab over it for a delicious salad. 

Nutritional information per serving :

 Serving size 1/4 Laab Mixture 

4 WWPointsPlus, 160 calories

, 5.5g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 18.6g carbohydrates, 4.3g fiber, 7.1g sugar, 13g protein

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