Okay folks, I admit, I’ve been a little distracted by the glorious Pacific Northwest summer, traipsing about in the mountains. Between that, work, and other personal projects, feeding the Internet Blog Machine has gotten a little backlogged. So without further ado, here’s one more..
Quite some time ago, I went to school in the other Washington -the District of Columbia. While there, I was exposed to the experience of an even more humid climate than my native Midwest summer. Wandering the concrete jungle blocks from my job at a nonprofit and nerd-exciting statistics classes, I was exposed to my first taste of Korean food ever. It was ironically a vegan Korean shop, and my favorite dish was tofu japchae. In retrospect it was an easy gateway crossover from my beloved childhood Cantonese restaurant dish of beef chow fun (see fellow pun lovers’ recipe at Woks of Life, and really, anything noodle. That first taste opened me up to a whole other cuisine full of spicier, more vegetable-filled and bbq-beef-laden meals like dolsot bibimbap and tofu soup!
Fast forward to years later on a warm Seattle summer day, living with some one who eats low carb, and here is my experiment in turning Japchae paleo friendly.
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..
(Insert Protein Here) Lettuce Wraps
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
For protein base:
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 pound ground chicken, pork, turkey, salmon, beef or tofu*
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
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium high heat.
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.
While this cooks, you can toast the cashews on the side.
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.
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 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!
Do you ever say, ‘I’m just looking’ and then you find something? I was cruising around Pinterest to find a new recipe for cooking Valentine’s Day dinner for my husband. I was intrigued with the notion of taking traditional lasagna into a cupcake shape. It was well worth it – each cupcake had it’s own crispness (much like the corners of a traditional lasagna) and wonton wrappers felt less filling than pasta noodles. Overall a fun spin on an original that I will make again!
1/3 pound ground beef
Salt and pepper
24 wonton wrappers
1 ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
¾ cup ricotta cheese
1 cup pasta sauce
Basil for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F
2. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray
3. Brown beef, season with salt and pepper
4. Drain beef
5. Return pan to heat and add tomato sauce
6. Cut wonton wrappers into circle shapes (using the top of a drinking glass)
7. Start layering; wonton wrapper, tomato sauce, ricotta
8. Repeat layers until add about 2-3 wonton wrapper layers are added per cupcake
9. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese
10. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until edges are brown
11. Let cool for 5 minutes
12. Use a knife to loosen edges, then pop each lasagna out
13. Garnish with basil and serve
Novelty Rating: 3.8 of 5 stars Likelihood of Repeat: 75%
The taste of melted cheese is like gelato on a warm day and that’s lasagna; however, lasagna in a cupcake shape is phenomenal. I don’t think I could ever go back to making lasagna in a rectangular pan. My cupcake tin is now reserved for lasagna!
Lesson Learned: Use cooking spray and let the lasagna sit for 5 minutes after removed from the oven. Removing the lasagna cupcake from the tin is delicate and letting the lasagna rest for 5 minutes after removed from the oven is key (reserve a little cheese to munch on in the meantime). ☺
On request of my ‘roommate,’ I tried this recipe from Easy Peasy, for paleo meatballs. It’s almost identical to the ones I usually make (which, by the way, get rave reviews by same roommate -beef, not turkey per the URL), except without breadcrumbs, a few more spices (oregano, basil), and added spinach. Never parsley. Boo parsley. It is only better than cilantro, which is the worst. Funny that anyone needs a paleo version of meatballs.. I followed the second option for directions that Angela mentioned: fry, then bake.
1lb. grass fed ground beef
1tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2tsp salt and 1/4tsp pepper)
1/2 small onion, minced (I used minced red onion here)
1Tbsp spinach (optional) 1Tbsp fresh parsley (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, scramble egg and combine remaining ingredients, mix.
3. Using a spoon, shape into meatballs. I tried for small ones, a little bigger than the diameter of a quarter. That’s the way I like my food portioned –meatballs, or cookies, or whatever.
4. The original recipe said that for a little crunch if you’re up for an extra step, heat a pan with about 1 Tbsp olive oil and brown on both sides, then bake 10-15 minutes until thoroughly cooked. This pan fry step made the house smell really tasty, plus, it led to..
5. Extra credit: sauté/ wilt some fresh vegetables in the remaining meaty-oil mix on the pan. I did this with spinach and a little minced garlic.
I served this with a side of barbecue sauce, a spring mix salad, garlic sautéed spinach, atop some leftover garlickified quinoa (see: fry up lots of minced garlic, add leftover cooked quinoa until warm), and atop some red rice I found in the back of the pantry. Of course, you could also eat it with pasta, or zucchini pasta, or just baked in barbecue sauce..
Today’s Trial Recipe Rating: Novelty Rating: 2 of 5 stars
I may have never tried this exact rendition, but it sure did feel familiar. Likelihood of Repeat: 40%
The other eater seemed to like them. It seems in the past that any time I make meatballs, no matter how much I tried to make extra, we didn’t end up with much left, so that’s a good sign. However, I still believe that the ones with breadcrumbs taste better, so I’ll probably only make these ones on specific request, or for my gluten-liberated friends. It might be worth trying without the spinach next time.
New standard review note! Lesson Learned: Shaping meatballs always takes a little more time than you imagine, and don’t plan for leftovers.