Vegan Lettuce Wraps


Sara Novak Photo
Sara Novak

My mom gets a little funkier and greener in her cooking every time I see her. She's gotten into vegetarian eats instead of her traditional meat, veggie, and carb combo of old. These days it's a meal loaded to the brim with vegetables and meat-free protein sources. Recently, when we went to visit her she made these divine lettuce wraps. They were even vegan. And flavor-wise they just didn't miss a beat. We vowed that whenever we were considering ordering Chinese, we would make this simple and ridiculously delicious recipe instead.

You'll want to get the skinny rice noodles at the grocery store instead of the fatter version because they can be a little chewy underneath the lettuce wrap filling. You can also serve the lettuce wraps with rice if you like, but if you're trying to keep it simple for the family, the lettuce wraps are pretty filling. I used the soy crumbles for this because they really absorb the flavors of the marinade.

Choose a lettuce that's seasonal and flavorful rather than iceberg, which is a let down in the flavor department. I like Boston Bibb or a large leaf romaine for this. I doubled the sauce so that we could use it at the table as well.


8 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp dry sherry
2 tsp water
2 tsp soy sauce
salt and pepper
2 cups soil crumbles, thawed
5 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, minced
2 small dried chilies,
8 oz can bamboo shoots, minced
8 oz can water chestnuts, minced
2 cups spinach, chopped
1/2 package cellophane Chinese thin rice noodles, prepared according to package
1 head lettuce, pulled apart into leaves
Lettuce Wrap Sauce
1 tbsp Hoisin sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp dry sherry
2 tbsp water
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
(if you can find them local, use fresh)(optional)



  1. Soften the mushrooms by covering them with boiling water. Let stand 30 minutes and drain. De-stem and chop the mushrooms.
  2. Combine all the ingredients for the sauce and set aside. Combine cornstarch, sherry, water, soy sauce, salt, and pepper. Add in soy crumbles. Add 1 tsp of vegetable oil and allow it to marinate for 15 minutes.
  3. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium high heat. Add 3 tbsp vegetable oil and soy crumbles and stir fry for 3 minutes and set aside.
  4. Add 2 tbsp vegetable oil to pan. Add in ginger, garlic, onion, and chilies; stir fry about a minute or so. Add mushrooms, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, and spinach; stir fry an additional 2 minutes. Return soy crumbles to pan. Add mixed cooking sauce to pan. Cook until thickened and heated through.
  5. Chop cooked cellophane noodles into small pieces, and cover the bottom of serving dish with them. Then pour soy mixture on top of noodles. Spoon into lettuce leaf and dig in.

    Recipe adapted from

This recipe appears in: Chinese

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