Sticky Tofu Lettuce Cups

  • Author: Nina | Tofu Test Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


Cashews, maple syrup, and coconut milk are the heroes of the sticky sauce – and it’s all gluten free!



  • 1 block extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 3 tbsp arrowroot powder*
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil**
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1” piece of ginger, minced
  • 1 cup cooked white rice
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp + 3 tbsp tamari
  • 1 cup cashews***
  • ⅓ cup coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp chili paste
  • 6 cabbage leaves
  • Suggested toppings: shredded carrot, bean sprouts, green onion, & sesame seeds

*You can substitute cornstarch if you’re not gluten free but I prefer arrowroot powder anyway because the coating stays on the tofu better, and it’s less processed than cornstarch.

**Grapeseed oil is good for frying because of its high heat tolerance, unlike olive oil. Vegetable or canola oil can also work for frying.

***You do not need to soak the cashews first if you have a high speed blender like a Vitamix. But if you are using a food processor or other blender, soak the cashews overnight at room temp.


  1. Cut the tofu block into small cubes about ½” thick and place in a medium sized bowl.
  2. Use a rubber scraper to gently fold the arrowroot powder into the tofu, coating each piece evenly. 
  3. Pour oil into a large frying pan until the bottom is completely coated to ensure you have enough for frying. I’ve suggested ¼ cup but it depends on the size of your pan. Heat on medium-high. Don’t add the tofu until the oil is very hot. The oil will start to shimmer when ready.
  4. Carefully add your tofu to the frying pan a few pieces at a time. It should sizzle. If it doesn’t, wait another 30 seconds or so for the oil to heat up before adding the rest of the tofu. Do not crowd the pan, or the tofu will stick together. Ideally the tofu pieces shouldn’t touch each other. Fry in batches if your pan isn’t large enough.
  5. Fry the tofu for 5 minutes, flip, and fry for another 5 minutes. The outside should be golden brown. 
  6. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool while you prepare the rice. Cooling before adding sauce helps the tofu stay crispy!
  7. In a medium frying pan, heat 1 tbsp oil over low heat and add the diced onion. Sprinkle with salt and cook on low for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and translucent but not browned. 
  8. Add the garlic and ginger, and stir for 30 seconds. Then add the cooked rice and increase heat to medium-low. Cook for another 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. 
  9. Add the vinegar and 1 tbsp tamari to the pan and stir. This will add flavor and help loosen any stuck on rice from the bottom of the pan. Cover with a lid to keep warm, and set aside.
  10. Combine all sticky cashew sauce ingredients in a high speed blender or food processor and blend until smooth. 
  11. To reheat the tofu and sauce, take your large frying pan that you used to fry the tofu and remove any excess oil so that there is just a thin coating on the bottom. Heat on medium-low, and add the tofu back to the pan. Pour in the sauce and gently stir to coat all pieces evenly. 
  12. Cook for 1 minute on each side.
  13. Combine rice and tofu in individual cabbage leaves and add toppings. 


To remove individual cabbage leaves without breaking them, cut the base of the cabbage off first. Pull the leaves off starting at the base.