(Insert Protein Here) Lettuce Wraps!

These days, my household tries to eat less carb-heavy things on a regular basis, and I’ve taken to making lettuce wraps regularly. One of the first google search results will give you a copycat of the P.F. Chang’s recipe, so that was my jumping off point. Frankly, that is where I’ve eaten most of the lettuce wrap dishes in my life. Not vouching for the authenticity of it here, going there kind of drives me nuts sometimes (okay, every time). I also halved all the sauces from original recipe for a full one pound portion of pork. You’ll want to adjust it to your taste, other people probably like more sweet, oozy sauce than me.
From there, I added things I actually wanted to eat..

Lettuce wrap close-up. I think this one is pork..
Lettuce wrap close-up. I think this one is pork..

(Insert Protein Here) Lettuce Wraps
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

Lettuce wrap montage! This one is from an earlier trial, before I decided I didn't like cucumbers and instead wanted oranges in it.
Lettuce wrap montage! This one is from an earlier trial, before I decided I didn’t like cucumbers and instead wanted oranges in it.

Ingredients:

For protein base:

  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 pound ground chicken, pork, turkey, salmon, beef or tofu*
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1.2 tsp minced garlic)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 7-10 crimini mushrooms, diced roughly

For the sauce (portions adjusted from original recipe):

  • 2 Tbs hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1.5 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Optional: Sriracha sauce or red peppers, to taste

To serve with protein base:

  • 1 head butter lettuce, rinsed.
  • 2 green onions, thinly chopped
  • 1 orange, rind peeled and pieces sliced (see video below)**
  • a handful of toasted cashews, or raw cashews if you can’t find toasted.
  • 1/2 an avocado, cut in bite-able chunks

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium high heat.
  2. Add ground pork and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the meat as it cooks; drain excess fat/liquid. NOTE: adjust this time for other proteins until browned enough and reached safe eating temp.
  3. While this cooks, you can toast the cashews on the side.
  4. Stir in mushrooms, garlic, onion, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger and Sriracha (optional) until onions have become translucent, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in green onions until tender, about 1-2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. It may already be salty enough before you add salt.
  5. To serve, spoon several tablespoons of the pork mixture into the center of a lettuce leaf, add cashews, avocado, orange and green onions, and enjoy!

*Note: I’ve tried this with ground chicken, turkey, pork, and salmon chunks so far, but you could pick any main protein base, including pressed tofu for the focus. For that reason, I’ve tagged this recipe as vegetarian, and paleo. I also marked it gluten-free -standard hoisin and soy sauce ingredients are NOT gluten-free, but you could buy or make a gluten-free version of this if you were up for it and I don’t think it would impact the taste much.

This trial picture had edamame, but I didn't feel that added much (besides good lean protein). Look at all the bright colors!
This trial picture had edamame, but I didn’t feel that added much (besides good lean protein). Look at all the bright colors!

This Week’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating:
4 of 5
I still haven’t made this dish enough for it to feel old hat, and every time the outcome is a little different.
Likelihood of Repeat: 80%
Also, always a different outcome if you try different proteins with it! Chopped up chicken rather than ground chicken would probably work too, and as long as you don’t get too carried away with add-ons, it doesn’t take hardly any time at all. Interested to try tofu too.
Lesson Learned: For this recipe, salmon is at the bottom of the priority list. Meh.
The portions of the recipe say four servings, and in fact it was enough ingredients that I ended up having to split it in half when sautéing -halfway through the process-, in order to get the mushrooms and onions to sear rather than boil. However, if the flavoring turns out good, you may end up with barely 1 mouthful left to put in the fridge between two hungry adults. Success! I think this otherwise could have fed a family of four if said people waited 10-15 minutes after having a few wraps, to feel full. You may also end up with leftover butter lettuce if you buy it in the live form I do, so a follow-up meal of tacos or sandwiches may be good later in the week.
This is definitely a somewhat messy affair to eat. Bring wet naps or be prepared to wash your hands after.
Also: I added the cashews for crunch, you could also try fresh, chopped daikon radish, raw carrots if you like carrots, or other toasted nuts.

**If you’d like a demo on how to cut citrus fruit to avoid the bitter pith, check out this random video I found of a charming guy with an entertaining shirt. Fight scurvy -eat more oranges!

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