This eggplant tofu lettuce wrap is easy to put together and perfect for any night of the week. It is saucy, sweet, and spicy and the cashews give it a perfect crunch.
This wrap is great for any time of the year, I used to take it to work quite often (when I used to have a corporate job). Somehow I am craving for it this season. We have gone into a bit of hibernation, it is cold and we are in the middle of another lockdown. I want food that is deeply satiating and nourishing and easy to put together. This wrap is easy, comforting and everyone in my family seems to love it.
While I can't claim to be a copycat, this is my version of the Panda Express eggplant tofu recipe that is showing up on my feed, but it is also different in many ways.
Why make this recipe
- It is super quick to make. You need 30 ish minutes from prep to actually enjoying it. So this eggplant tofu wrap is perfect for a busy weeknight.
- The stir fry sauce that brings this whole meal together is sweet and spicy and so packed with flavour.
- It is vegan and can suit a variety of dietary needs.
- You can make it with pantry staples.
- This recipe can also be meal prepped (tips shared below)
Ingredients notes and subtitiutions
You don't need a lot of ingredients to make this amazing recipe and it only needs pantry staples. I have covered everything along with suitable substituions below, but please see the recipe card for quantities.
Japanese Eggplant: I used Japanese eggplant here, but you can use any variety of Asian eggplant (Chinese or the smaller Indian eggplant) all work for this recipe. You may have to adjust your cooking time based on the eggplant you use.
Extra Firm Tofu: I recommend using a package of extra firm tofu since it works the best for this recipe.
Roasted Cashew: You can either roast your own cashew which I typically do or buy store-bought unsalted roasted cashews. It lends a nice crunch to the wrap.
Vegetarian Hoisin Sauce: Hoisin sauce is a condiment that has Cantonese origins. It is a thick sauce that contains fermented beans, and spices and lends a wonderful depth of flavour or umami to this recipe. Although hoisin means seafood in Cantonese, it is vegan (but I do buy one that says vegetarian on the label). Many of the commercial varieties contain wheat flour and is not gluten-free. You can substitute hoisin sauce with vegan oyster sauce, I often seen it being used as a substitute in recipes.
Soy Sauce: I recommend using a low sodium variety since hoisin sauce already contains salt. You can also use tamari or coconut aminos.
Toasted sesame oil: This is packed with flavour but a little goes a long way
Maple Syrup: It is my preferred sweetener of choice and it is fantastic in this recipe. You can also use coconut or borwn sugar.
Red pepper flakes: This adds a nice heat to balance out the sweetness, but feel free to adjust the quantities based on your preference.
Ginger and garlic: Use a zester to quickly mince garlic and ginger. Garlic or ginger powder won't work here.
Lettuce: I recommend using butter lettuce or iceberg lettuce. You can even try cabbage here.
You can also add red bell pepper or serve this on white rice or brown rice instead of lettuce.
Make crispy tofu
Drain and press a package of firm tofu with a cloth kitchen towel or paper towel. Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and salt it. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Swirl in vegetable oil. When hot, add the tofu pieces. Pan-fry the tofu till it is golden brown. Take the tofu out of the pan and set it aside.
Stir fry eggplant
Return the pan to heat. Bring another tablespoon of oil to medium-high heat. Add in the eggplant slices in batches and fry till the eggplant is golden and cooked through. Make sure to stir occasionally. This should take 12-15 minutes while you make the sauce.
Whisk the sauce
To a small bowl, add soy sauce, hoisin sauce, maple syrup, sesame oil, minced garlic, finely chopped ginger, and red chilli flakes. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
Add sauce and tofu
Once the eggplants are cooked add in the tofu, roasted cashews and the hoisin mixture. Mix till everything is well combined and coated in the sauce. Let it cook for another minute until the sauce thickens. Take it off the heat and transfer it to a large bowl and let it cool.
Garnish and serve
Top the lettuce leaf with eggplant tofu mixture, garnish with chopped scallions whites and greens and toasted sesame seeds. Squeeze some lime juice over the tofu eggplant mixture and serve with the dipping sauce.
Make the dipping sauce
To a small bowl add vegan mayonnaise, sriracha chili sauce, sesame oil, and lime juice. Mix till well combined
Meal prep tips
You can make this eggplant tofu wrap a part of your weekly meal prep.
- Wash, dry, and prep the lettuce and store in storage bags. This can last 3 days in the fridge.
- Fry the tofu and store it in the refrigerator. When ready to use throw it right into the pan with the eggplant to reheat. Let it heat up before adding the cashews and sauce to the pan.
- Make the stir fry sauce. This sauce is amazing and it can be made ahead of time and also used in other stirfry recipes.
If you are looking for easy weeknight dinners pr other tofu recipes check out my recipe for spicy peanut tofu.
- 1 block extra firm tofu cubed
- 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil or any neutral oil
- 3 Japanese Eggplant diced or cut in 1-inch slices
- ¼ cup low sodium sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce or vegetarian oyster sauce
- 2 - 3 cloves or garlic minced
- 1 inch piece ginger finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon chilli flakes (adjust per your taste)
- ¼ cup roasted cashews
- 2 butter lettuce or iceberg lettuce, washed and prepped
- finely chopped spring onions
- Juice of ½ a lime
Spicy Dipping Sauce (Spicy Mayo)
- ¼ cup vegan mayonnaise
- 1-2 tablespoons sriracha
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- Juice ½ a lime
- Drain and press the tofu. Squeeze out excess liquid, using a paper towel.
- Cut the tofu into cubes roughly into 1-inch cubes and salt it.
- Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Swirl in about a tablespoon of oil. When hot, add the tofu pieces. Pan-fry the tofu till it is golden brown. this should take about 5 minutes.
- Return the pan to heat. Bring the remaining oil to medium high heat. Add in the eggplant slices and fry till the eggplant is golden and cooked through. Stir occasionally. You may have to do this in batches depending on the size of the pan. It should take about 12-15 minutes for the eggplant to cook through.
- While the eggplant is cooking prep your sauce. To a small bowl, add soy sauce, hoisin sauce, maple syrup, sesame oil, minced garlic, finely chopped ginger, and red chili flakes. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Top the lettuce leaf with eggplant tofu mixture, garnish with chopped scallions whites and greens, and toasted sesame seeds. Squeeze some lime juice over the tofu eggplant mixture and serve with the dipping sauce.
Make The Spicy Dipping Sauce
- To a small bowl add vegan mayonnaise, sriracha chili sauce, sesame oil, and lime juice. Mix till well combined