Lettuce wraps are one of my favourite ways to start a Thai meal. They’re messy and drippy but oh so flavorful and a wonderful mixture of textures. I’ve never made them before because for some reason, I thought they would be really hard. But they’re totally not!
The great thing about these is you can add all kinds of goodies from the fridge. I have one friend who makes them as a fridge cleanup dish. The key is getting the seasoning down right.
I used a whole bunch of recipes to get an idea of what to do and then I just winged it cuz that’s the kinda gal I am. Hehe. Baking is for precision. Cooking is for experimentation.
The filling can be made with ground chicken, beef or pork. I used pork because it’s what I had in the freezer and I’ve never had pork lettuce wraps but the flavour was great. You can use any type of lettuce for the wraps as long as it’s fairly sturdy and big enough. I prefer the crispness of iceberg.
I also didn’t have any vermicelli. You don’t need it but I love the crunchiness it adds.
So here, in a somewhat orderly fashion, is what I wound up doing. Feel free to experiment with the veggies you add and the seasonings you try.
Thai Lettuce Wraps (with Pork Filling)
- 1 head of iceberg lettuce, washed and cut in half or quarters (depending how big you like your wraps)
- 1 package (1/2kg) of ground meat: chicken, beef or pork
- 1 tbs cooking oil
- 1 large onion, chopped (red or yellow will both work)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
- 2-3 shallots, finely chopped
- ½ cup of julienned carrots (you can add any leftover veggies you have in the fridge)
- 1 thumb sized chunk of fresh ginger peeled and grated
- 1 tbs soy sauce
- ¼ cup hoisin sauce
- 1 tbs fish sauce
- 1 tbs sweet thai chile sauce
- 1 bunch of green onions, chopped (set aside a handful for garnish)
- 3 tbs chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 tbs chopped fresh mint
- juice from one lime
- 1 tbs rice wine vinegar
- 2 tsps of sesame oil
- In a large skillet or pot over med-high heat, heat up the oil and add your meat. Cook until browned and then drain any excess oil. Remove from pan and set aside.
- In the same pan, cook the onion, stirring frequently. Add a touch more oil if you need it.
- When the onions are softened, add the garlic, shallots, carrots, ginger, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, fish sauce, and chile sauce and continue stirring.
- Add the green onions, cilantro, mint, lime juice, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil and continue stirring until the herbs and onions are just starting to wilt. (about 2 minutes)
- Add the meat back into the pan and combine well with the sauce and allow it all to heat back through.
- To serve, arrange the lettuce leaves on a platter and put the meat mixture into a large bowl in the centre of the platter. Give each of your hungry people a spoon, plate and a great big napkin and let them make their own wraps by spooning the filling into the lettuce leaves and wrapping them up. Be ready for a delicious, messy meal!
PS… the filling makes a great meat dish all on it’s own and is a wonderful leftover (should you have any!) for wraps or rice.