All of this cool, sunny weather means we’re going to be seeing big heads of local lettuce in just a month or so. But you can only eat so much salad (okay, I can only eat so much salad). So here’s something else you can do with those cupped leaves of Bibb or Boston lettuce: make lettuce wraps.
Think of these like Asian tacos minus the carbs. Ground pork (or turkey or chicken) is sautéed with garlic, ginger, scallions, and red pepper, and seasoned with hoisin and soy sauce. You scoop some of the meat into a whole lettuce leaf and then top with cilantro, mint, and mung bean sprouts. Don’t let the food styling fool you. You really want to pile on the sprouts and the herbs. It’s this freshness and crunch that complements the rich and flavorful meat filling so well.
Leaves from small heads of lettuce are a little easier to deal with since they have more compact structural integrity. You may need two heads of lettuce to make sure you end up with enough whole leaves without any tears through which the filling can escape.
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. peanut or vegetable oil
1 pound ground pork
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
4 scallions, sliced
12 whole Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves, washed and spun dry
Mung bean spouts, for garnish
Springs of cilantro and mint, for garnish
Chopped peanuts, for garnish (optional)
In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and water. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Cook the pork, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté 1 minute, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Add the pepper and cook another minute or two until the pepper softens, stirring frequently. Add the sauce and the scallions, simmering and stirring for a minute or two to thicken and mix. Remove the pan from the heat.
To assemble, spoon the meat mixture along the central rib of each lettuce leaf. Sprinkle liberally with mint and cilantro leaves, chopped peanuts (if desired), and mung bean sprouts. Serves 4.
Source: Inspired by the Asian chicken lettuce wraps in The Dinnertime Survival Cookbook by Debra Ponzek and Mary Goodbody