Lettuce Wraps

Jujus and I have a list of things we want to do and places we want to go together.  With our similar obsession, a lot of  places are centered around food.  The problem always is how to make the obsession affordable.  The solution has been simple – Happy Hour!  What started out as us trying to simply cross things off the list turned into a great way for all of the girls to go out, eat, drink and not break the bank.

One of the best Happy Hour deals we found in Walnut Creek was P.F. Chang’s.  On the Happy Hour Menu are lettuce wraps.  We all loved them and laughed at our sticky fingers and satisfied stomachs.

Less expensive then going to Happy Hour is eating in.  My lettuce wraps are different then P. F. Chang’s.  I only make one sauce, but it’s bright and sweet with a finishing heat which hits you in the back of the throat and brings a flush to your cheeks (ladies no need to use blush).  The meat is packed with flavor and the added freshness from the shredded carrot and zucchini is a low cost way to bump up this fabulous appetizer or add a healthy touch to your main course.

Lettuce Wraps
Serves 8 (or 4 as the main course)

Ground Meat
1 lb. ground beef or chicken
1 TBS sesame oil (if on hand, ½ TBS sesame oil and ½ TBS chili oil)
1 medium onion, finely minced
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 TBS cayenne pepper
1 TBS chili powder
½ tsp chili pepper flakes
1 tsp ginger powder
1 TBS sugar
¼ cup soy sauce
1-8 ounce can water chestnuts, washed, drained and chopped finely

Sauté meat in a large skillet until there is no pink, breaking apart with a wooden spoon.

Remove grease.  Add sesame oil and onion.  Sauté until onion is tender and add garlic.  Sauté until garlic is fragrant.

Add spices and mix thoroughly.  Add soy sauce and cook until liquid has nearly evaporated.  Stir in water chestnuts.

Note:  Can be made a day ahead.  The meat is best served warm.  It will need to be refrigerated if not served immediately, but re-heating in the microwave is easy.

Sweet Chili Pepper Sauce
2 red bell peppers
1 TBS olive oil
1 jalapeno chili, seeds removed
1 TBS honey
½ cup sugar
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp chili powder
1 tsp chili pepper flakes

Set oven to broil.  Cover bell peppers in olive oil and place into oven.  Turn every 5 minutes, until skin is blistered with patches of black.

Remove from oven and place in a sealed plastic bag.  Allow to sweat for at least 15 minutes.  Remove skin.  Cut away stem and seeds.

In the bowl of a food processor, place roasted bell peppers and remaining ingredients.  Puree thoroughly.  Remove and refrigerate until needed.  Serve cold or at room temperature.

Assembling Lettuce Wraps

1 head iceberg lettuce, separate leaves and wash
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 cup shredded carrot

Pile leaves with meat, vegetables and sauce.Recipe in print-friendly format

About Mikaela Cowles

I’m a food-gobbling, book-reading, aspiring photog. Born and raised in Seattle, I love dancing in the rain, bouquets of fresh basil and green grass between my toes. I like how kneading butter into flour makes my fingers soft. I’m passionate about all things sweet potato. I prefer my coffee black, my scotch on the rocks and my steak bloody. I hunt, when I have time; play basketball; and hike. I’ve been known to laugh so hard I hyperventilate. And, I’m the owner of Making Language Count, a boutique freelance writing business.

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