Lettuce Wraps

May 14, 2010 § 10 Comments

We got some wonderful Bibb lettuce in the last CAS box, which I thought some lettuce wraps would go nicely with it. Ah, lettuce wraps.

Lettuce wraps = Grandmother
Grandmother = love

I know I’ve said this before but she was such a huge influence in my life. I thought maybe a (very) late Mother’s Day post was in order here. You see, when I was very very young, my grandmother (Nai-nai) would make lettuce wraps just for the two of us. Not a particular significant thing except the fact that at the time, it was a rather large household back then, 3 generations. But the lettuce wraps were something only her and I shared together.

She would usually do this as kind of a before-bedtime “Nai-nai, I’m hungry” kind of thing. She would heat up leftovers from that evening’s meal, then we would eat it with leftover white rice and lettuce. In all honesty, I can’t remember a thing about how they tasted. Only that I loved sitting there and eating them with her. We always ate at the coffee table on the couch (a no-no for everyone else but we did it anyway). 

This recipe is one from a Wei-Chuan cookbook. I made some slight modifications using what I had on hand. But lettuce wraps can be made with pretty much anything you like, or in my grandmother’s case, leftover from dinner!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb ground beef (or any other ground meat you prefer)
  • 2 green onions, cut into small pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can (8 oz) water chestnuts, diced
  • 4 medium dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 head of Bibb lettuce (or iceberg), leaves rinsed and dried
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil
  • Steam white rice (optional)

Cooking Sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • Pinch of red chili flakes

Dipping Sauce:

  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Chinese hot mustard
  • 2 tsp chili garlic sauce
  • 2 Tbsp sugar

Directions:

Soak the mushrooms in warm water for 30 minutes. In the meantime, rinse the lettuce leaves and dry. A salad spinner really helps if you have one. Put into the fridge until needed.

If water chestnuts are whole or sliced, cut them into tiny pieces. Set aside.

Remove mushrooms from water after 30 minutes. Dry them, cut off stem and chop into tiny pieces, about the same size as the water chestnuts. Set aside.

In a wok, heat up cooking oil. Stir-fry meat until cooked. Add green onions and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add mushrooms and water chestnuts and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add cooking sauce and combine everything together. Stir-fry for another 2 minutes to let the flavors meld.

The way I make my lettuce wraps is to put some rice on the lettuce. Spoon a good amount of the ground beef mixture on top of the rice. Then drizzle some Dipping Sauce over everything and then chow down. It’s messy but good.

Another thing that can be added to this is some deep-fried rice noodles. I’m not particularly fond of this since I find the fried rice noodles a bit like styrofoam after a while. But if you like them, by all means.

So to “wrap” up this post, thought I’d share a picture of my grandmother and me from way back when. Can anyone guess what that body of water is behind us? Wow, sure was windy that day. And don’t anyone laugh at that green muumuu!! My mother made it for me and I loved wearing it!

Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

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§ 10 Responses to Lettuce Wraps

  • Tes says:

    The recipe seems delicious! I am going to try this next week.

  • dennis says:

    My first lettuce wrap was at PF Changs a looong time ago, he he. These look way better and that horse statue’s behind isn’t staring at me by the window, haha. Cute muumuu!

    • CAB says:

      Hi Dennis! I like the PF Chang’s lettuce wraps but it’s been several years since I’ve had it (maybe 5 years??). And those horses are always staring down at me too! This one doesn’t taste like PFC’s. I doubt the recipe was meant to be like theirs.

      Haha, the muumuu! I wish my mom had kept that dress just for the novelty. And the fabric would so be vintage now!

  • Kirbie says:

    What a nice story =)

  • sawyer says:

    awesome pictures and that’s a wonderful writeup about your grandmother. i enjoy lettuce wraps, but i’ve never thought about making them at home…now i have the recipe and incentive to do so. thanks cab!

    • CAB says:

      Thanks Sawyer! It’s quite easy to make, especially if you have leftovers. My mom made a version of this but she used miso paste, kind of like her jajiang mian recipe, which I really liked too.

  • So glad we stumbled onto your blog, these wraps sound so ono. My father always said that I was the worst Hawaiian because I can’t cook, only eat 🙂 Maybe I’ll surprise him with this! Awesome blog and amazing photo….hmmmm…..Ala Wai canal?

    Aloha,
    Ilima

    • CAB says:

      Hi Ilima and thanks for stopping by and the kind words. Yes yes! It’s Ala Wai Canal! We used to live in a teeny tiny apartment off one of the sides streets for a few years before moving more eastward.

      Oh, I hope your father likes these if you do make it for him.

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