The Dinner Bar: Asian Pork Lettuce Wraps

I have to admit, when I dine at the Cheesecake Factory, the Thai Lettuce Wraps are my meal, and the inspiration for this post. While I am not a chef (nor claim to be anything more than an occasionally inspired, predominantly efficient cook for my brood), I do consult recipes to get an idea of what I want to do.

I have done such here. I looked at many Asian, Thai, and Chinese style lettuce wraps and came up with my own recipe. I surely won’t win any awards for this one, but the exclamation from My Little Man (“These are THE BEST! I’m not having one, I’m having five!”…uh, I hope not…) is reward enough for me.

I thought these would be perfect for The Dinner Bar. If you’re not sure what I mean by Dinner Bar, read this, or search my archives for other Dinner Bar recipes.

You Will Need:

Protein:

  • 1 pound ground pork or chicken

Grains:

  • 1 cup Rice, or Pedon’s 5 Italian Grain Blend  (2 cups prepared)

Vegetables:

  • 3/4 head, Butter or Head Lettuce
  • 1 cup carrots, Julienne
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1, 5 ounce can water chestnuts, drained
  • ½ red pepper, Julienne

Fruits:

  • Red Grapes

Dairy:

  • Milk or milk substitute

Fats:

  • Sesame oil
  • Vegetable oil

Other:

  • 1 tablespoon fresh or refrigerated, prepared ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce (separated)
  • Jarred Thai peanut dipping sauce (make your own if you like)

Getting it All Together:

First, start your rice. Follow directions on the package of Pedon 5 Grain Italian Blend (faro, whole oats, rice, barley and Kamut wheat) for 2 cups prepared grains; flavor the water with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of sesame oil. When cooked, place in a bowl.

**Note: If you haven’t heard of this whole, quick cooking 5 Grain mix, you’re not alone–I hadn’t either. I just happened upon the product in Costco. It cooks in about 10 minutes, and you can flavor the water with bouillon cubes, soy, or other. We’ve had it twice with glowing reviews!

Next, prepare your veggies: core the head of lettuce and separate the leaves. Rinse and dry them, setting aside on a plate or platter. Julienne the carrots or buy pre-cut matchstick carrots; do the same with the red pepper. Place each in a bowl or on the platter. Place the bean sprouts and water chestnuts on the platter too.

Place the peanut dipping sauce in a small bowl.

Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and 2-3 cloves of minced garlic over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the ground pork, ginger, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil; brown pork until cooked through. Place in a bowl.

Assembly:

Allow your family members to assemble the lettuce wraps the way they want! My Little Man opted for meat, grains, carrots and peanut sauce; the girls went for the works.

We had grapes on the side and milk to drink, rounding out a well-balanced meal.

I do know that we’ll be having these lettuce wraps again. They were fresh, crunchy, mildly seasoned and very flavorful. The Dinner Bar is always a hit because the kids are in charge (but, really, so are you!).

Have you made lettuce wraps before? How did your family like them?

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