The Stars of the Party: Japanese Potato Salad and Chinese Lettuce Wraps

June 18th, 2007 yum Posted in Chinese, Dinner Party, Japanese, Party Menu, Summer, Vegetarian 3 Comments »

As temperature soars in my second floor apartment, hot food loses its appeal and all I want are light, cool, summery dishes like those I enjoyed in the hot Japanese summer. I made Lettuce Wraps with Tofu and Veggie Crunch Served with GF Hoisin sauce, Summer Rolls with peanut sauce OR sweet chili garlic sauce, Potato Salad with Cucumber, Carrot, and Lettuce, and our favorite Grilled Sesame Tofu. Our guests seemed to thoroughly enjoy everything, and the potato salad and grilled tofu were especially big hits. I did notice that because I left them out on the table, the tops of the summer rolls dried out and became a bit crunchy, so it’s best to cover them with saran wrap if they will be sitting out for a while. However, it was all really yummy. We ended the night with cool shaved ice dessert, topped with strawberry syrup and condensed milk. Mmm, refreshing.

Jicama Tofu Lettuce Wraps
Ingredients
2 1/2 tbsp peanut oil
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 package tofu, pressed in cloth and minced
1 1/4 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup minced carrots
1/3 cup minced jicama
7 dried mushrooms (shitake) soaked in water OR about 8-10 fresh shitake- only use caps, minced.
1 tbsp GF Oyster sauce IF you can find it, if not use other dark sauce. (I used Premier Japan Organic Wheat Free Teriyaki sauce.)
2 tsp Shao-Hsing wine or sherry
3/4 tsp GF soy sauce (preferably low sodium san-j wheat free)
8 lg crunchy lettuce leaves
3 tbsp Hoisin sauce (I used Premier Japan Wheat free hoisin)
Directions
Heat wok on high and add one tablespoon of the oil, swirling around pan. [Season with whole cloves of garlic or chopped green onions if desired, remove from pan when brown.] When hot and you see a little white smoke, add garlic, stir, and add tofu, stirring for a little over a minute. Take off burner and put tofu mixture on a plate for later.

Heat wok again on high, adding the rest of the peanut oil and swirling around pan. Add ginger, stir, add sugar and salt, mix. Add vegetables and stir-fry for a few minutes, add tofu mixture and combine thoroughly. Mix in the oyster sauce or teriyaki sauce. Add wine or sherry, mixing throughout before adding GF soy sauce, heating thoroughly.

Remove from heat. Serve on a plate with lettuce. Let guests brush lettuce with some GF hoisin, put a few tbsp. of filling on the leaf and fold it into a package.

Notes
Very yummy! I’m still not entirely satisfied with the Teriyaki sauce for oyster sauce, but you can experiment. Some vegetarians use oyster mushrooms blended with soy sauce but I have not yet found a fully satisfactory GF substitute.
Japanese Style Home Potato Salad
Ingredients
2 large Potatoes
Salt
2 skinny Japanese Cucumbers (or 1 regular, or 1/2 english)
1 Carrot
1/4 onion
8 tbsp mayonnaise (can use egg free version for egg free salad!)

For Special “dressing version” add
3 tbsp GF french dressing
1 tbsp sugar

For serving: 8 large lettuce leaves

Directions
Wash potatoes and cut out any eyes. Place in salted water and bring to a boil for about 30 minutes. Don’t peel because they may become watery.

When they seem done, take them out of the water, drain and cut them into quarters, removing skin.

Put the potatoes into a bowl and squish them with a spatula. If making Special dressing version add sugar and heated french dressing. (Heating it intensifies the flavor).

Slice cucumber (with skin ON!!) into thin rounds, preferably in a food processor. sprinkle with salt and leave to wilt. Slice carrot into thin rounds as well, blanching so they are no longer raw but still crunchy. Slice onions very thin (in food processor) and immerse in salted water.

When cucumber and onion look slightly wilted, drain and rinse with cold water, and then pat dry or wring dry in a cloth. (Esp. take care to wring the water out of the cucumber.)

Add vegetables to the potatoes and mix, adding mayonnaise and mixing them all together. (You can increase or decrease the mayo to taste.)

For a more “adult” flavor add 1 lg tbsp dry mustard. Optional.

Serve on lettuce leaves. Enough for 2-4 people, depending on appetite for potato salad and number of side dishes.

Notes
This went over very well at the party, and was perfect for a hot, sunny day. Just make sure to keep cool. I made the french dressing version and liked it but think it is just as good without…

Loosely translated from a Japanese recipe at gourmet.yahoo.co.jp- with some of my notes or paraphrasing.

I love Japanese style potato salad. I’ve been trying to get a home cooks recipe for years, but the housewives I know usually shrug when I ask for a recipe and say they just throw it together. Thank goodness for Yahoo gourmet’s Japanese site!

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