Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Asian Lettuce Cups + Bonus Ingredient

Here's a kid-friendly, quick recipe for the Thai dish of laab (larb), a traditional appetizer of ground meat, chilies, lime juice and fish sauce, all served in a lettuce wrapping.



2 tablespoons of coconut oil, or oil of choice
1 shallot, finely chopped
Pinch of salt

1 pound of ground pork (or beef)

1 teaspoon of minced garlic
1 teaspoon of minced ginger

1-3 teaspoons of Red Boat fish sauce (to taste)*
Juice from 2 limes (or to taste)
Black Pepper

1 head of butter lettuce

Garnishes: (personal preference)

Chopped cilantro/basil/mint
Pickled carrots (see recipe below)
Chopped scallions
Sriracha sauce


1.  If making the pickled carrots, prepare* and refrigerate.

2.  In a wok, or large frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat.  When hot, add the chopped shallot and a pinch of salt; sauté about 3 minutes.

3.  Add the ground pork, and stir fry until the meat is no longer pink.

4.  Add the ginger and garlic; stir fry until fragrant.

5.  Season with fish sauce, lime juice and pepper to taste; stir and remove from heat.

6.  Place meat mixture in lettuce cups; top with fresh herbs, pickled carrots, sriracha sauce to taste.

Makes 6 lettuce cups.

Bonus Ingredient:

I have never cared much for fish sauce, but my daughter loves anything cooked with it.  After assembling the ingredients for this recipe, I saw a taste test of fish sauce brands online and headed to Whole Foods.  What a difference The Red Boat brand makes.  It's like tasting a cheap white wine and then champagne.  I added 3 teaspoons of this to the laab and threw out my other brand.  The flavor was delicate, rich and delicious!

* Pickled Carrot Strings:
  • 1/3 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 carrots, julienned
Mix the wet ingredients and salt in a bowl.  Submerge the carrots in the brine.
Chill for at least 30 minutes. Drain a handful of carrots on a paper towel before using.  (Put the rest in the fridge; they will keep for up to a week.)

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