Thursday, 8 November 2012

Chinese Pork Lettuce Wraps

Some of my closest and dearest friends are those I met during the year I spent in America. One such dear friend even took me in with her family for Christmas, when I couldn't afford to fly home to be with my own. This recipe comes from a fun memory we have from that time...

We decided to go out for dinner to a well known chain of Chinese bistro restaurants, and I had fairly high expectations from the rave reviews I'd been hearing. I was excited to see the menu and pick out what I would have... but then my friend informed me that for my starter I simply had to have the lettuce wraps. No amount of explaining to her that I'm not a fan of lettuce had any effect, and soon enough I found lettuce wraps being served in front of me.

Oh my goodness, I'm so glad that her... um... strong will was stronger than mine! I don't think I've been so pleasantly surprised in all my life- and so it was that I discovered a new favourite dish! I still wouldn't class myself as the world's biggest fan of lettuce though....

Returning to the UK I didn't have the pleasure of trying lettuce wraps for some years as they sadly didn't seem to have crossed the Atlantic just yet; until Mr E and I were on holiday in Ireland and we stumbled across the tiniest little Chinese restaurant in the middle of nowhere that had them on the menu! Much to my delight Mr E was just as enamoured with these little bundles of goodness as I was, and it was only then (at his prompting) that it occurred to me to try making my own.

A few years, and many recipes, later we've finally settled upon our favourite way of making these, and I'm so excited to share it with you! The lettuce, while serving as the perfect little holder for the filling, is fresh and crisp and light, which is a perfect balance for the hot and (lightly) spicy filling. You can tweak these to your hearts content (and to fit in with what you might have in your cupboards)... we highly recommend trying them with finely diced chicken, and shitake mushrooms are a great addition too.

Lizzie, I love you dearly- thank you for introducing me to lettuce wraps!

Pork Lettuce Wraps
Serves 4 as a starter, or 2-3 as a main course

Little gem or sweet gem lettuce
500g pork mince
75g unsalted cashew nuts, roughly crushed
4 spring onions, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 tspn minced garlic
1 tblspn minced ginger
2 tblspns soy sauce
1 tblspn sesame oil

1) Heat the sesame oil in a wok or high sided frying pan until very hot (starting to glisten). Add in the pork mince and stir fry for a few minutes until browned.

2) Add in the chilli, ginger, garlic and cashew nuts and stir fry for a further minute.

3) Add in the soy sauce and spring onions and stir fry until the soy is completely incorporated and the spring onions have just started to soften.

4) Pull the lettuce leaves off the root and serve piled up in the middle of the table, alongside a large bowl of the pork filling.

If having this as a main course then you might like to have prawn crackers on the side; as a starter it's more than enough on its own. Either way a little bit of sweet chilli sauce makes a nice addition, so we like to have a little bowl on the table too.


  1. These wraps look like some tasty eats. I'll have to give them a try! :)

    1. Haha thanks, CJ! Let me know if you do, I hope you enjoy them as much as we did :)

  2. That looks so fantastic! Yum :)

    Thank you for sharing on Tasty Thursday!

  3. Found this recipe on Pinterest. Deeelish! Thank you! Will be making again.

    1. I'm so glad you liked it, Jenni! It's one of my favourites :) If you are making it again, I really like using turkey mince for it too if you fancied trying that!

  4. Just wanted to let you know we make this all the time!

    1. In fact, I have featured it on my blog today! Come check it out at Diana Rambles dot com!

    2. Hi Diana, thank you so much for stopping by to let me know that you enjoy this, and for sharing it on your own blog- it's one of our family favourites too!

  5. Is pork mince the same as ground pork? And how much is 500 g? Thank you. I can't wait to make this. Beda Stoner,

    1. I am so sorry for my tardy response, I've been a bit absent on the blog lately. Yes, ground pork is the same as pork mince- one of the many language confusions between the UK and US! 500g is just over 1 pound (1.10 to be exact!). I hope you enjoy it when you get to make it!

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