Begin by pressing tofu: Either wrap in a clean towel and set something heavy on top or use a tofu press. Press for a total of ~30 minutes.
PEANUT SAUCE: In the meantime, prepare peanut sauce by adding all ingredients except water to a small mixing bowl (starting with the lesser quantity of each ingredient). Whisk to combine then add a little water at a time and whisk until creamy, smooth, and pourable. Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more tamari or coconut aminos for saltiness, maple syrup for sweetness, chili garlic for heat, or lime for acidity. Set aside for serving.
TOFU: Once pressed, slice tofu into ~3/4-inch cubes and add to a large mixing bowl or Tupperware with a lid. Add the tamari, chili garlic sauce, sesame oil, and maple syrup (reserve the cornstarch for later). Seal with the lid and toss gently to combine. Let marinate for 15 minutes.
At this time, heat your oven to 400 degrees F (204 C), and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
After 15 minutes, add cornstarch (starting with the lesser quantity and working your way up), and cover again and toss gently to coat. You’ll know you’ve added enough cornstarch when the tofu no longer appears wet and the cornstarch is evenly coating each piece.
Heat a large cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add a bit more sesame oil. Then add only as much tofu as will fit comfortably in the pan (be careful not to crowd). Cook until golden brown on all sides — ~2-3 minutes per side — flipping with a fork or small spatula. Then transfer to your prepared baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes (at 400 F / 204 C), or until crispy and firm. We find this step really elevates the tofu’s texture and gives the coating more crispiness.
VEGGIES: In the meantime, prepare veggies and herbs (optional) for serving. We recommend finely shredded carrots, thinly sliced radish and green onion, and fresh cilantro and/or Thai basil. Set aside.
Lastly, prepare lettuce or cabbage by washing and drying and gently separating ~10 cup-size lettuce or cabbage leaves. They should be slightly larger than the palm of your hand (big enough to accommodate ~5 cubes of tofu and veggie toppings).
TO SERVE: Arrange cups/leaves on a platter and top each with ~5 cubes tofu (as original recipe is written, you should have ~10 lettuce cups). Top with veggies and herbs of choice and serve with peanut sauce on the side.
Best when fresh. Ingredients keep separately in the refrigerator for up to 1 week (peanut sauce = 1 week; tofu = 3-4 days, veggies = 1 week, herbs = 1-2 days). Reheat tofu on the stovetop over medium heat or in a 350 degree F (176 C) oven until hot.
*The best peanut butter to use is made with just peanuts and salt (no other additives). Our favorite brand currently is Wild Friends. *If subbing coconut aminos, know that they aren’t as pungent or salty in flavor as tamari and soy sauce. So you may need to add a bit more than the recommended amount. Season to taste. *Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with the lesser amount where ranges are provided, with 1/4 each carrots, radish, green onion, and bean sprouts, and without optional ingredients. *Recipe as written makes ~50 pieces of tofu, which yields ~10 lettuce wraps.