Spring always makes me crave fresh. fresh. fresh. Spring makes me crave fresh even more than fall makes me crave big pots of comfort food.
Enter these Asian Lettuce Cups.
I started making these Asian lettuce cups last month after I saw a similar thing on a Chinese cooking show. I was struck by the simplicity of the cooking, while knowing it must be bursting with flavors. Of course the dish that inspired this was made in a Wok, which I do not have. But I did not let that stop me! With the basic idea in mind, a different cooking vessel, and virtually none of the same ingredients, I set to work.
Christopher peeled carrots. Natalia scooped chopped vegetables into their respective containers for me. It was a fun family activity.
It took about fifteen minutes to prep, but the cooking time took maybe five minutes. Perfect for those times you do not want to heat up your kitchen!
All in all I spent more time photographing this dish than making it. It’s just so beautiful, and I had a few new photography toys I wanted to play with.
This would make a lovely meal with some fried rice (minus the egg if need be), or a lighter meal by itself. For the kids I just gave them a bowl of the filling. But, Mark and I enjoyed it in full veggie wrap style.
- For the sauce:
- 2 tablespoons coconut aminos
- ⅜ teaspoon toasted sesame seed oil
- 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
- For the filling:
- 2 tablespoons heat stable oil or ghee
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated on a micro-plane
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 3-4 medium carrots, cut into ¼" cubes
- 2 chicken breasts or thighs, cut into ½" cubes (boneless skinless)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 lb tender asparagus, cut into ¼" slices on the bias (use green beans if you can not find quality asparagus)
- For Serving:
- 2 head Bibb lettuce (aka Boston or Butterhead), just the leaves big enough for the cups
- Cilantro (optional)
- Chopped red bell pepper (optional)
- black and/or white sesame seeds (optional)
- orange, pineapple, or mango slices (optional)
- chives (optional)
- chopped or almond slices peanuts (optional)
- Mix together the sauce ingredients.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet (or wok if you have one, but these instructions are for a skillet as I do not have a wok) over medium heat for about three minutes. Add the ginger and garlic, stir well. Add the shallots, and cook for about another thirty seconds. Add the carrots (and chickpeas if doing vegetarian option) and cook around a minute more. Add the chicken (if using) and salt and cook until the chicken is nearly cooked through. Add the asparagus and sauce ingredients. Stir around for a couple seconds and remove from the heat.
- Serve the slightly cooled chicken and vegetable mixture in the lettuce leaf cups topped with any or all of the following ingredients: white sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, cilantro, chopped red pepper, chives, peanuts or almond slices, and either pineapple, orange, or mango slices for a bit of sweetness.