Pan-frying chopped tofu in a pan and drizzled with a delicious sauce is my current favorite method of cooking tofu. It’s so simple, and as I think about sauce options, they are limitless! Today, I created these Hoisin Tofu Lettuce Cups with only a few ingredients, a lot of which I had in my pantry (What do you have if you have a few half-empty Hoisin sauce bottles in your refrigerator?)

If you’re not fond of the idea of lettuce cups, then you could serve this dish as a bowl meal. You’ll need additional rice and maybe some red bell peppers to fill them up slightly, but it’s the same delicious and less sloppy.


A second but optional step for making this dish is freezing and defrosting your tofu before beginning. I prefer to put the tofu package in the freezer as soon as I return from the market, and the next day, I place it in the refrigerator to cool so it’s ready to use a day later or when I decide to use it. What are the benefits that tofu is frozen? It changes the texture of the tofu, making it firmer with less jelly-like. Also, it makes it simple to squeeze the liquid with your hands instead of waiting around for 30 minutes or more while the delicate tofu pressurizes. Take a test. It will change things!


14 oz. extra firm tofu ($1.79)

1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)

2 Tbsp cornstarch ($0.08)

Two tablespoons of cooking oil ($0.08)

1/2 cup hoisin sauce ($0.89)

Two green onions ($0.25)

One carrot ($0.15)

1/4 cup of peanuts ($0.12)

1 cup cooked rice ($0.25)

One head lettuce* ($2.49)


Remove the tofu from the container and place it on two plates or baking sheets. Put something heavier over it, such as a cast iron skillet, to help it sit down, and then press it out of the excess liquid. The tofu will be prompted for around 30 minutes. Take the drink off and dry the tofu with a towel.

Chop the tofu chunk into tiny irregular shapes. Place the chopped tofu in a bowl, then sprinkle on salt and one tablespoon of cornstarch. Fold the cornstarch and tofu together until it is coated. Add another tablespoon of cornstarch, and fold once more.

Cooking oil should be heated on medium in a non-stick pan (cast iron or Teflon, your preference). When it is hot, then add the cornstarch-coated tofu. Let the tofu cook until it is golden brown at its bottom. Stir it and allow it to cook until it is golden brown on the bottom again. Continue this procedure until most of the tofu has become crispy and golden outside (about 10 minutes in total). Then, please remove it from the stove.

Add the hoisin sauce on top of the fried tofu and stir until it is coated. Slice the green onion, and chop the carrot. Cut the peanuts into small pieces.

Place 1 Tbsp of cooked rice in each leaf to construct your lettuce cup. Top with 1-2 Tbsp hoisin tofu, followed by sliced green onion, chopped carrots, and chopped peanuts. Enjoy!