Lettuce wraps (in my opinion) are one of the best plates of food. There’s really no limit to what you can make them with or top them with. Having a sense of the flavor profile you’re going for helps design your wrap. Consider flavors from Greece, Japan, Mexico, India, the Middle-east, Thalandi, Morocco, China, and of course good old American BBQ are some good options. Then just figuring out what you want to toss in. What proteins, vegetables, garnishes, sauces, etc.. Many of our wraps have included ground turkey, beef, chicken or pork, marinated tofu, grilled fish, sliced steak, grilled vegetables, barbecue chicken and serious sauces such as tzatziki, peanut sauce, chimichurri, mast-o khiar, chutneys, salsas, sesame tamari, sriracha mayo, zhoug, harissa and more. Garnishing with fresh herbs, seeds or nuts, edible flowers, and fermented foods layers the flavors and adds even more texture and color. With all the many options, there’s still one common denominator – the lettuce. Probably the best strategy for making lettuce wraps is to find a head that can stand up to the weight of your ingredients. Best lettuce choices are varieties with big leaves that serve as the vessel. A Boston or Bibb, a summer red or green leaf or an iceberg lettuce can serve as the foundation for foods.
This lettuce wrap recipe is Asian inspired. It’s been an all-time favorite of our Pepper & Salt customers and one we served many times when hosting parties. I wanted to share this recipe because it’s been requested for literally years! It’s a labor of love. It takes some time to pull together, but some of the preparations can be made a day or two ahead of time which make this a much easier task. The result is an incredibly fulfilling, textural, flavor burst of damn delicious food. The addition of shiitake mushrooms give the meat an umami flavor that’s a must-have in this dish. Even if you’re not a mushroom fan, the finely chopped mushrooms cook down into the ground turkey and sauce so they’re hidden in terms of texture, but add a layer of flavor that makes the dish special. All the steps for preparing your ingredients has been provided, including our coconut peanut sauce recipe and pickling brine for quick pickling all the veggies.
We hope you enjoy this version. Please let us know when you try this recipe and how it turned out for you! Thank you!
Serves 4 to 6 plates
- 1-1/2 lbs organic ground turkey (dark meat)
- 1/2 C shredded carrots
- 8 criminal mushrooms, finely chopped
- 5-6 dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated and coarsely chopped (approx 1/4 cup)
- 1 (8) oz can water chestnuts, coarsely chopped (no liquid from can)
- 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 3 T grated fresh peeled ginger (easier to grate if it’s frozen)
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
- 3 T hoisin sauce
- 2 T organic gluten free tamari
- 1 T rice wine vinegar
- 1 T brown sugar
- 2 T fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp lime zest
- 2 tsp sambal or sriracha
Ingredients for Assembly (see pickling instructions below)
- 1 C julienne carrots, 1-1/2″ long, pickled
- 2 organic cucumbers, sliced in rounds, pickled (you can also julienne cut the cucumber)
- 1 C julienne daikon radish, 1-1/2″ long, pickled
- 1/2 red onion, sliced in moon shapes, pickled (optional)
- 1 C Thai basil, stems removed (or other basil. We used Shiso basil and Thai basil)
- 10-12 sorrel leaves (if you can’t find sorrel, you can used radicchio or other colorful leafy green)
- 1 C Trader Joe’s Blister peanuts (or other shelled peanuts)
- 1/2 C green onion finely chopped (white and green parts)
- 12 lettuce leaves, butter lettuce, ice berg, red or green leaf
Pickling brine: Process at least 2 hours before serving
- 2 sterilized glass mason jars with lids
- 1 C white vinegar
- 1 C unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1-1/2 C Water
- 1/2 C Sugar
- 2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 tsp chili flakes (optional, but we light the additional heat this gives the vegetables in the wraps)
Place your carrots, daikon radish, red onion in one jar and your cucumbers in second jar. Bring all ingredients to a boil so sugar and salt is dissolved. Carefully pour brine over vegetables. Place lids on jars and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Pickled veggies will last up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Ingredients for the Jasmine Rice
- 1 T coconut oil
- 1 T sesame oil or extra virgin olive oil
- 1-1/2 C jasmine rice, rinsed
- 1-1/2 C water
- 5-6 lime leaves (if you can’t find lime leaves, you can add a tablespoon of lime zest)
- 1 T kosher salt
- 1/3 C toasted black or white sesame seeds
In a cast iron skillet, on medium low heat, toast your sesame seeds. It takes about 5 minutes. Shake pan often so seeds do not burn. Pur onto a sheet pan to cool. In a medium sauce pan, add coconut oil, sesame or olive oil, rinsed jasmine rice, lime leaves (or zest), water and salt. Bring to boil. Turn heat off and let rice rest for 10 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork, moving the lime leaves into the cooked rice. Cover and let sit another 10 minutes. Add sesame seeds and fluff rice with a fork so seeds are well incorporated. Check for seasoning and add more salt if needed.
Ingredients for the Peanut Coconut Sauce
This is a no-cook sauce. There are other versions out there, so if you have one that you love – use it!
- 1 C chunky organic peanut butter
- 1 C coconut milk (not light! you want full fat on this one!)
- 1-1/2 T organic tamari
- 1 – 2 tsp minced garlic (depending on your preferences)
- 1 T grated ginger
- 1 T brown sugar (or honey)
- 1-1/2 T sambal or sriracha
- 1 T fresh lime juice
- 1/2 tsp lime zest
In a medium sized mixing bowl, stir all ingredients together for a firm creamy consistency. If you want it thicker, add more peanut butter. For a thinner version, add a bit more coconut milk. If you don’t eat all this sauce (but most likely you will!), it will last in the fridge for up to one week.
Each plate will have two lettuce leaves. Scoop 1/4 cup each turkey and jasmine rice in each lettuce cup. Top with pinches of pickled vegetables, green onion, and a leaf or two of sorrel. Drizzle peanut sauce over the top and garnish with Thai basil and peanuts. You may want to have a bottle of sambal or sriracha on the table for those you like a little more heat.
- Vegan/Vegetarian option: Marinated firm tofu in place of ground turkey. I use tamari, ginger, sesame oil, honey and sriracha. These are just as good – I love them!
- Since the veggies will last up to two weeks in the fridge, we usually make extra when we make this recipe. They’re great to have on hand for rice bowls, sandwiches, tortilla wraps, on soups and in salads.
- We also make extra peanut sauce and slather that on just about everything ….
- An a buffet hors d’oeuvre, I have put all ingredients out and let guests assemble their own lettuce cups.
- As a passed or platter hors d’oeuvre, I have used the smaller inner leaves and preassemble all ingredients. You just want to make sure it’s more of a one or two bite size especially if its a passed hors d’oeuvre.
- While most like the ground turkey to be warm, you can serve the wraps with ALL cold ingredients. Especially on week like this one!