Vietnamese-ish Lettuce Cups

IMG_1725I love all the things you can messily wrap in lettuce or rice paper in Vietnamese restaurants.  Inspired by those dishes, I made this up after looking at a million “lettuce cup” recipes online and not finding what I wanted.

I love this dish. If it didn’t involve so much chopping I would make this at least once a week. Luckily Mike loves it too so he’s willing to assist with the mincing and dicing. The first time I made it, Mike was so enthusiastic about it I make it with leftover pork one night and then brought home a rotisserie chicken and made it again.

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My rabbits went insane when I came home with this bag of herbs and veggies. They stared at me the whole time I was cooking and ended up eating most of the herbs.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 5 Limes (juice of 3 in sauce, 2 minced in filling)
  • Ginger (grated in sauce, minced in filling)
  • Sugar (I used brown sugar but any would do)
  • Rice vinegar
  • Fish sauce
  • Garlic
  • Thai chili (There weren’t any at the store this time so I used Serrano)
  • Shredded chicken, pork or other protein
  • Green onion
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Jalapeño
  • Mint
  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Red bell pepper
  • Daikon
  • Butter lettuce or Romaine leaves washed and dried.

Sauce:

Make the sauce by mixing together lime juice, sugar, rice vinegar, fish sauce, garlic, and ginger. Add grated carrots and a Thai chili sliced very thinly.

I started with these proportions but I just kept adjusting till it tasted the way I wanted it to so don’t feel married to the recipe. It should be mostly lime juice but add a lot more fish sauce than you might expect to.

Make a lot – you will want to season the filling with a bit of it and keep the rest to dip in or spoon onto the lettuce cups as you eat. My husband once drank the sauce right out of the bowl. Don’t encourage this; it gave him a stomach ache.

  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fermented fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 thinly sliced Thai chili with seeds

Filling:

Again, no real strict proportions here. I just eyeball it.

Chop everything:

Shred the chicken or pork.

Peel 2 of the limes and mince into tiny cubes.

Peel a few inches of ginger and mince about the same size.

Dice the cucumbers, green onions, and red pepper.

Shred the carrots and daikon.

Chop the herbs.

Now put this all in a bowl and pour a few tablespoons of the sauce over the top. Mix it up.

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We made way too much! Dinner tonight too.

Assemble:

I serve this in three bowls (lettuce, filling, sauce) and we assemble them ourselves. It’s pretty messy and primal and one of our favorite meals.

If you’re feeling fancy or are having a dinner party or something and want to be more civilized just set a few washed and dried lettuce leaves on a plate, fill with a few spoonfuls of filling and voilà!

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