Monday, July 20, 2009

Lotsa lettuce

(Whoops, sorry about previous post. I was trying to "paste" and did the keyboard command for "post" instead.)
Seems like we're swimming in lettuce these days. We got some from our CSA, our friend brought us some from her garden, and I can't seem to resist the lovely furled heads at the Farmers' Market. The Husband and I can only eat so much salad, and The Boy and The Girl aren't much for the lettuce. All the other crunchy vegetables you'd put on a salad--tomatoes, cukes, peppers, pea pods--they gobble up, but they haven't yet gotten a taste for lettuce. I was looking for a way to use my surplus and ran a good one: It's all over the web, under such various names as "Asian Lettuce Wraps" and "Meat Rolls." My lovely non-PC children call it "Chinese Tacos." Actually, I think it's more akin to meals I've had in Korean restaurants, what with the dolloping, the garnishing, the wrapping.
All I know is that it's a good thing I bought extra lettuce at the Farmers' Market, because my kids, under the guise of Chinese Tacos, snarfed an ENTIRE head of lettuce, forcing me to hop up and wash/spin another head! It wasn't just an aberration, either; we've had this three times in the last month and each time they eat themselves silly.
The recipe I'm using is kind of cobbled together from a couple I saw, plus a few extra touches of my own. Whatever you call it, it's terrific!
Here's how I've been doing it: Rinse and spin dry a whole head of Bibb or other butter-type lettuce, being careful not to tear them. Brown a pound of ground turkey or pork in a large skillet. When the meat is nearly cooked, add about half a chopped onion and a clove of minced garlic and saute. When onion is cooked, add 1-2 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1/4 cup hoisin sauce, 1-2 tsp. grated ginger root, 1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar, and a dash or two of hot sauce (optional). Stir constantly for a few minutes until all is combined and cooked through. Add 2-3 chopped scallions and a scant teaspoon of toasted sesame oil; stir. Arrange your whole lettuce leaves around the outer edge of a large serving platter and pile meat mixture in the center.

Each diner takes a lettuce leaf and spoons a portion of meat into the middle. Garnish with finely julienned carrot and cucumber plus some bean sprouts if you like them. Wrap the lettuce around the filling like a burrito. It's messy, but delicious!


  1. Mmm, I love lettuce wraps! That sounds so good!

    (I deleted out the empty post for you. :)

  2. These look fantastic! The rents are coming to town this weekend; I'm going to add these to the menu while they're here.

  3. Excellent! It's a very social food, if you know what I mean, Julie, since you kind of have to interact and assemble your dinner. Make sure to double the recipe if you're having guests. Add a bunch of plain white rice and it's a dinner party!