• Almond and Fig

Asian Inspired Lettuce Cups

Updated: Jun 19

Asian lettuce cups are an absolutely summer family favorite. This starter can easily be turned into a family style, easy and a healthy meal. Its so light and filling and perfect for those hot summer days. There is three components to this dish: protein (your choice), crunchy veggies served with a savory sauce that's sticky, umami and bursting with flavor served in a crisp lettuce cup. At home I love to serve this family style on a huge platter or board with all the fixings and sauces. Take the whole platter and sit outside on the patio. The kids take great joy in creating their own pockets of goodness and you don't even need utensils to eat this, a napkin helps though. To ensure a delicious bite make sure you season your filling pretty well. I love to do that using aromatics like garlic, ginger, shallots and lemon grass and then season the meat with Chinese five spice that has an incredible sweet aroma from the fennel, star anise, cloves, cinnamon and Sichuan peppers. This dish has no gooey cheese, no noodles, or rice but gets devoured by the whole family and no one ever complains. Hooray to healthy delicious food that's not trying too hard, and is just so so good.

Serves 6

As a meal, lots more if served as an appetizer

Prep time: 15 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes


For the soy dipping sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

  • 1 garlic cloves grated

  • 1 scallion thinly sliced

  • 1 teaspoon Thai chili’s chopped (optional)

  • 1 tbls chili paste like Sambal Oelek (optional)

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce or coconut aminos

  • Juice of one lime

  • 1 tbls agave or honey

  • 1 tbls hoisin sauce

  • 1 tsp of fresh grated ginger

  • Directions:

  • mix all the ingredients in a jar with a tight lid and shake well to combine

For the peanut dipping sauce:

my kids like the peanut sauce with this

3 tbls hoisin sauce

1/2 cup peanut butter

1-2 tbls soy sauce

Start with 2-4 tbls of water add more if you want your sauce thinner

Juice of one lime you can also add rice vinegar

1 garlic clove minced

1 tsp minced fresh ginger

1 tsp sesame oil

Tsp of siracha or chili paste (optional)

For the filling:

1.5 lbs ground chicken, beef or pork

2 tbsp. avocado or vegetable oil

2 garlic cloves minced

1 tbsp minced fresh ginger

1 Thai chili minced (optional)

1 kefir lime leaf (optional)

2 tsp Chinese 5 spice

Salt and pepper to taste

1 8 oz can water chestnuts drained and chopped

1 stalk lemon grass finely chopped

** This filling keeps well in the fridge for 3 days

To serve:

2 heads butter or bibb lettuce, leaves separated and washed

2 carrots julienned or shredded

3 scallions thinly chopped

1 cucumber diced

Roasted peanuts for garnish

Fresh herbs: mint, Thai basil, and cilantro


1. Make the sauce: In a jar with a fitted lid combine all the ingredients and shake real well until it’s combined. If sauce is too thick add water 1tbls at a time until you get the consistency you like. Make sure you taste and adjust your seasoning.

2. Make the filling: In a wok heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable or avocado oil over medium-high heat. Add the aromatics: ginger, garlic, shallots, chili, lemon grass and lime leaf sauté for a minute until fragrant but don’t burn it. Add the chicken and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon. season with salt and pepper and Chinese 5 spice until browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the water chestnuts if using. Deglaze the pan with three tbls of the soy sauce mixture. Cook for 30 seconds and that's it. If meat mixture is too dry thin it out with water or chicken stock. Transfer the meat to a plate and serve.

  1. To serve: I like to serve all the fresh cut up veggies on a platter along with the green lettuce cups and place the mince meat in a separate bowl.

  2. Pile your lettuce Cup with the meat, veggies, top with herbs, scallions, crunchy peanuts and a drizzle of your fav sauce. * you can serve this meal with jasmine rice (optional)

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