Ah, Asian-beef lettuce wraps. They make a refreshingly intricate meal that reminds me of a lovely spring day (I'm dreaming, Toronto could really use some warmth over here). Like tacos, they're incredibly fun and messy to eat. No knives or forks allowed. If you're a messy eater with no shame, you've mastered the skill of cleaning up anything that drops on your plate gracefully with just your hands. I'm looking at you, and I'm tipping my Raptors hat off to you.
These lettuce wraps are simple to make in just under 30 minutes. As a time-crunched individual, I'm a huge fan of weekday recipes that I can whip up easily and add a bit of variety to my food regime.
See that purple leaf vegetable over there? That's called radicchio, also known as Italian chicory. Sometimes I mistaken it as red cabbage, since my partner would buy one or the other. One time I opened the fridge door and paused for a second to guess if the purple vegetable sitting cozily on a shelf was radicchio or red cabbage.
Radicchio leaves are thinner and tender which is why they're great to serve as a wrap. Bold and bitter, but also a tad bit spicy, radicchio compliments this Asian-inspired lettuce wrap because of its ability to pair with well with sweet, salty, and acidic ingredients. Not to mention, it has a beautiful colour will brighten up any meal you serve right off a cutting board! (In this case, a bamboo board. It's not dishwasher safe)
The minced meat is like the holy grail in a shepherd's pie, or the cheese in a jalapeño popper. In Chef BF's edition, we combined both beef and pork, then seasoned them in garlic and hot chili peppers in a medium non-stick pan. It makes one spicy beef-pork-mash peppered by the sweet and spicy kick of ginger. He also added a splash of fish sauce and soy sauce to the meat to bring it to life.
The dressing is like the icing on the cake, and boasts the rich flavours of sesame oil, fish sauce, coriander, and freshly squeezed lime juice. When it comes to doing a little taste test, it gets me exclaiming out loud "this sauce is boss". I love the addition of coriander (or cilantro), my number one favourite herb in the WORLD. It has both a citrus and curry flavour profile that lightens and sweetens the sauce.
In fact, I love coriander so much I add it to almost everything I eat. Except pizza.
Tip of the day: when it gets too spicy, cool down with a spoonful of plain yogurt.
The beauty about making this at home is you can adjust the level of spiciness according to how you or your guests like it. If you prefer to go the mild and mellow route, you can reduce the amount of chili pepper flakes in the minced meat. But if you like it spicy enough to make dragons jealous, feel free to add generously or include a side of hot sauce. Enjoy!
Total time: 30 minutes
Serves: Makes 16 wraps
- 2-inch block of ginger, sliced
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
200 g ground pork
200 g ground beef
1/4 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
10 large radicchio leaves
6 small radicchio leaves
1 handful of coriander leaves, for garnish
Lime wedges for serving
50 ml olive oil
25 ml soy sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1-2 limes for juice
1 tablespoon sesame oil
- Rinse whole radicchio leaves, pat dry and set aside.
- Slice the ginger and chop the garlic into small pieces. In a medium skillet over medium heat, add the garlic and ginger and fry them until they turn light brown.
- In a separate bowl, mix the ground pork and beef together. Then add the meat into the pan and season with chili pepper flakes. Stir with the garlic and ginger until almost cooked. In the last two minutes, add 1 tbsp fish sauce and 1 tbsp soy sauce into the pan. Cook until browned all over.
- For the dressing, mix together 25 ml soy sauce, 50 ml olive oil, 1 tbsp sesame oil and 2 tbsp fish sauce in a separate bowl. Then add 2 freshly squeezed limes to finish.
- Garnish the beef with coriander leaves and serve the wraps with lime wedges.