GINGER PORK LETTUCE CUPS
These lettuce cups might be a little too P.F. Chang’s for some people, but this is a recipe I’ve come back to time and time again for quick, delicious results. Big on flavor and a cinch to prepare, ginger pork lettuce cups are an amazing start to an Asian-inspired menu and have even taken center stage on more than one dinner occasion.
Here, unctuous ground pork and umami-rich oyster sauce mingle with crunchy water chestnuts and finely diced red bell pepper to create a filling that is as appealing to the eye as it is to the palate. The contrast in texture between the hot, salty filling and the cool, crispy lettuce is a combination that has me coming back to this recipe over and over again. The best part? Once you have all the necessary ingredients in your pantry, whipping this dish up on a weeknight is as easy as it gets.
GINGER PORK LETTUCE CUPS
Adapted from the August, 2006 issue of Food & Wine Magazine
When making the ginger pork mixture, I like to let it sit out for a few minutes to allow the flavors to marry and the ingredients to come up to room temperature. When stir-frying the pork, it’s important to use as high of heat as your stove will allow. Be sure to stir the mixture constantly and break up any large lumps. The goal is to drive away as much moisture from the pork as possible so that it will have a chance to caramelize in the fat. There is something especially appealing about eating the pork in lettuce leaves but it would also be delicious served over rice. Minced chicken or turkey would also make fine substitutes for the pork in this dish.
- 3/4 pound ground pork
- 1 medium red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1 serrano or thai bird chile, finely minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced, peeled ginger
- 1 tablespoon Thai sweet chili sauce
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon peanut or grapeseed oil
- 1 8-ounce can whole water chestnuts, drained and finely diced
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 24 Boston lettuce leaves
- In a medium bowl, combine the ground pork with the diced red bell pepper, minced chile, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, chile sauce, sesame oil and 1 tablespoon of the peanut or grapeseed oil. Set the bowl aside and allow the flavors to come together for at least 15 minutes at room temperature.
- Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat. Allow the skillet to get screaming hot before adding in the pork. Stir-fry the mixture over high heat, breaking it up, until the pork is cooked through and beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Stir in the oyster sauce, diced water chestnuts, scallions and cilantro and remove from heat.
- Serve the ginger pork in a bowl along with a stack of the lettuce leaves on a plate. To eat, spoon some of the ginger pork onto a lettuce leaf, roll up and enjoy.
Makes enough for 6 appetizer servings or dinner for two