Chinese lettuce wraps are a quick, easy, and healthy, weeknight dinner. Ground turkey is stir-fried with fresh Asian vegetables, and served in lettuce leaves.
Ground meat is a great way to stretch a dollar, but it doesn’t have to be boring!
I usually have a pound or two of ground turkey, pork, or beef in the freezer for a quick weeknight meal. I can change the ingredients, and take a virtual and culinary trip “around the world”, just by changing the spices and vegetables. Here are some Mediterranean, Cuban and English recipes using ground meat. We try and eat a lot of meals that use meat as a “condiment” rather than as the star of the meal. (This post was originally published on July 22nd, 2011 and has been updated, and contains affiliate links)
These Chinese Lettuce Wraps are a healthier version of traditional Mu Shu Pork with scallion pancakes. To serve Chinese lettuce wraps, just set up the fillings as you would a taco bar, with lettuce, extra bean sprouts, cilantro, mint, hoisin sauce and chili oil. Then, everyone can make their own wraps to suit their taste.
Hoisin sauce is usually served with mu shu pancakes, it’s somewhat sweet, not gluten free, nor is it low-carb. Since it’s always served on the side, anyone sensitive to gluten, or just avoiding sugar, can easily skip it. Serve it with white rice or cauliflower rice on the side. Adding lots of vegetables to the meat means I can stretch a 20 ounce package to feed the four of us for dinner, with enough leftovers for a couple of lunches the following day.
There is a small amount of honey in the marinade, as well as a small amount of sugar in the stir-fry sauce, but it’s just over 2 tablespoons for all six servings, which makes it still relatively low-carb and healthy. If you’re concerned about any sugar at all, you can always substitute monk fruit sweetener, your favorite low-carb sweetener, or just skip it altogether.
The most time consuming part of making stir fry is the prep work. Measuring out everything in advance is crucial, since the actual cooking takes just minutes.I have lots of ramekins and small glass dishes that I use just for mise en place (prep). Because I keep a lot of spices and condiments in my pantry, they need to be organized so I can quickly access them. I alphabetize my spices and keep all the condiments grouped together by region, so I can quickly grab anything I need.
Most of these spices and condiments can be found in a regular grocery store, but I usually visit my local Asian store where the “second” language is English. If I don’t know what something is, I ask questions. The produce is cheap, the fish is fresh, and the variety of noodles is amazing! But that’s another post. Feel free to add more vegetables or vary what you add. This would also work with baby bok choy, thinly sliced white onions or finely shredded cabbage.
I hope you enjoy the Chinese lettuce wraps! Here’s the recipe:
Chinese Lettuce Wraps
- 20 ounce ground turkey (beef or pork can be substituted)
- 8 oz. can of water chestnuts coarsely chopped
- 4 green onions cut on the diagonal
- 2 cups snow peas cut on the diagonal
- 1 cup chopped mushrooms
- 2 cups bean sprouts plus additional for garnish if desired
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 4 Tablespoons coconut aminos (tamari or soy sauce, divided)
- 3 Tablespoons rice vinegar divided
- 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 Tablespoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger root
- 1 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar (coconut sugar or monk-fruit sweetener can be substituted)
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 Tablespoons coconut oil divided
- 1 teaspoons sesame oil
- kosher or sea salt and pepper to taste.
- 1 head Ice berg lettuce washed and separated for "cups".
- 1 bunch fresh mint for garnish
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro for garnish
- In a bowl with your hands, mix turkey, honey, 1 Tablespoon each, coconut aminos (soy sauce, or tamari) vinegar, garlic and ginger root until just combined. Marinate ground meat mixture 15 minutes.
- For sauce: In a small bowl whisk together Worcestershire sauce, chicken broth, sugar, cornstarch, remaining 3 Tablespoons coconut aminos (soy sauce or tamari) and remaining 2 Tablespoons vinegar. Set aside.
- In a wok or large non-stick skillet, heat 1 Tablespoons coconut oil over moderately high heat until hot, but not smoking, and saute turkey mixture, stirring and breaking up lumps, until just cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer turkey mixture to clean bowl.
- Reheat wok over medium hight heat, add additional Tablespoon coconut oil, and stir fry mushrooms, water chestnuts and snow peas, about 1-2 minutes.
- Return ground meat to wok, and add sauce mixture, stirring until sauce is thickened, and snow peas are tender, about 2-3 minutes. Remove wok or skillet from heat and stir in sesame oil.
- Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with mint and cilantro leaves in lettuce cups.
- Serves 4-6 as a main course
Stir fry the ground meat quickly over a medium high heat. Stir to break up lumps, about 4-6 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon to another bowl.
Add the bean sprouts, stir fry just another minute more.
Some of the items used in this post are available through my Amazon Affiliate.
If you’re looking for more ways to use ground meat, you might like: