Oh, man! These are so delicious and easy as pie to make. I love ordering lettuce wraps (or lettuce cups as they are sometimes called) at restaurants, but I knew they had to be something I could make at home easily.
One of the best parts about making this kind of food is the ability to customize it to your tastes. As in all cooking, you can add as much or as little of something as you’d like — you can omit something, or add a new ingredient. For example, I usually use hoisin sauce in these, but lo and behold, when I went to make this recipe last night I was out. No biggie, I threw in some teriyaki sauce and all was good.
Feel free to play around with ingredients, but be warned about sodium levels in a lot of Asian items — too much of a good thing can have you retaining water.
I try to cram a lot of crunchy veggies into my lettuce wraps, too. This helps reduce the guilt I may have because I can eat a whole batch on my own. Just like the flavorings, you can add just about any vegetable to this recipe and it will taste great.
Here is what I use to make these delicious lettuce wraps:
1 lb of ground beef
1/2 Cup julienned carrots
1/4 Cup julienned radish
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1-2 finely minced garlic cloves
1-2 Tbs soy sauce
1-2 Tbs hoisin sauce
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp seasoned rice vinegar
1 Tbs peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 Cup warm water
2 Tbs crushed peanuts
1/2 Cup fresh mung bean sprouts
fresh cilantro (about 2 Tbs chopped rough)
1/2 Cup fresh shredded cabbage (green or red — shred thin)
1 lime, cut into small wedges
sriracha to taste
Lots of clean, fresh lettuce leaves (butter or bib lettuce works best, but I use green/red leaf lettuce too)
In a 12 inch skillet, brown your ground beef and drain excess fat. Add your ginger and garlic, sauteing for a few minutes until fragrant, then your carrots and radish. Next, stir in your soy and hoisin sauce to taste. Start with 1 Tbs of each first, and add more if you feel it needs it.
Mix in your sesame oil and vinegar and let simmer on low heat while you prepare your peanut sauce.
In a small bowl, mix together peanut butter, sugar and warm water with a fork until the peanut butter becomes creamy and smooth. Pour this into your meat mixture and turn off the heat.
Gently stir in your bean sprouts, cabbage, and crushed peanuts and transfer the mixture to a serving bowl. Top with fresh cilantro. (side note — I did not have bean sprouts or cabbage when I made this, so you don’t see these beautiful elements of the recipe in the photo above…bummer!)
To serve, let everyone grab some lettuce leaves and fill them with about 2-3 Tbs of the mixture. Add a bit of sriracha if you like heat and a squeeze of lime on top. You eat this just like you would a taco. Maybe they are a little messy, but they are so good.