I just returned from the mid west (my home town) and while there and visiting with good friends and taking a walk down memory lane we planned a "girls' night". It was a great night of food, fun, wine and catching up with people I've been friends with since childhood.
One of the dishes we prepared was a Thai Lettuce Wrap. My apologies for lousy photography. I'm lucky to even have snapped one since it seems vultures had invaded the house and no sooner were they (the wraps) done the hands were flying, lettuce leaves being filled, wine being poured - just your regular every day insanity.
I must tell you - although not so pretty to look at, these wraps are a show stopper - absolutely delicious. We used head lettuce rather than the suggested bibb or butter lettuce and they worked just fine. Head lettuce doesn't wrap as well but after being soaked in ice water they were crunchy and cold - combine that with a warm filling - nirvana.
15 Boston Bibb or butter lettuce leaves
1 lb (450 g) lean ground beef
1 Tbsp (15 ml) cooking oil (I used corn oil)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp (15 ml) light soy sauce
1/4 cup (60 ml) hoisin sauce
2 tsp (10 ml) minced ginger
1 Tbsp (15 ml) rice vinegar
Thai Chili sauce (to taste) - I used about 4 Tbsp
227 ml can of water chestnuts, drained and finely choped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 tsp (10 ml) dark sesame oil
Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry, being careful not to tear them. Set aside
In a medium skillet over high heat, brown the ground beef in 15 ml (1 Tbsp) oil, stirring often and reducing the heat to medium, if necessary. Drain and set aside to cool. Cook the onion in the same pan, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, vinegar and chili pepper sauce to the onions and stir. Stir in chopped water chestnuts, green onions and sesame oil and continue cooking until the onions just begin to wilt, about 2 minutes. Mix with beef.
Arrange lettuce leaves around the outer edge of a large serving platter and pile meat mixture in the centre. To serve, allow each person to spoon a portion of the meat into a lettuce leaf. Wrap the lettuce around the meat like a burrito and enjoy.
A single recipe is enough for about 4-5 people. We made a double recipe - good thing we did - the whole thing went in no time.