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lettuce wraps

Contributed by Benito Martin

These lettuce wraps from "Dinner Like a Boss" are filled with a ginger- and chile-spiced ground pork or chicken mixture.


Forget Taco Tuesday — this week, try Lettuce Wrap Wednesday

If your family is tired of Taco Tuesday, maybe it's time to try Lettuce Wrap Wednesday. Silly names aside, changing up your dinnertime routine is one way to keep everyone interested in what's going on at the kitchen table. 

Everything you can eat in a taco, you can eat in a lettuce wrap, but the light crispness of a fresh leaf of lettuce might inspire you to try a new filling. Ground meat is a common ingredient in tacos, but also many kinds of minced salads and lettuce wraps that originate in Southeast Asia.

China has its own regional variation called san choy bao (or sang choi bau or san choy bow) that is filled with pork or chicken and seasoned with soy sauce, oyster sauce, ginger, garlic and a red chile. This version of that dish is from Katy Holder's "Dinner Like a Boss: Quick, Easy and Healthy Meals for Busy Families" (Hardie Grant Books, $19.99), which includes 50 family-friendly dishes that young cooks can help prepare and the whole family can enjoy eating.

San Choy Bao
San choy bao is a delicious Chinese dish, which is great to serve to kids — they can eat it with their hands, so no more arguments about holding cutlery properly for this meal! You can make it with either minced pork or chicken. There are many different versions of san choy bao, but I've kept mine as child-friendly as possible, with some optional extras for adults. From "Dinner Like a Boss: Quick, Easy and Healthy Meals for Busy Families" by Katy Holder (Hardie Grant Books, $19.99).

Serves: 4

1 head romaine lettuce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds ground pork or chicken
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 to 1 red chile, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, finely grated
2 teaspoons granulated or brown sugar
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks about 2 inches long
2 3/4 ounces bean sprouts
Small handful of cilantro (optional)
Lime wedges, for serving (optional)

Separate the lettuce leaves, then rinse and pat them dry. Place them on a plate and chill in the refrigerator until needed to keep them crisp. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large frying pan, then add the meat and garlic and stir-fry until the meat just changes color, 1 to 2 minutes. If you are using chicken, cook it for an extra minute. Stir in the chile (if using), along with the ginger and sugar, followed by the soy sauce mixture. Stir-fry until the meat is cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes.

Divide the mixture between the lettuce leaves and top with the carrot, bean sprouts and cilantro, if using. Alternatively, place all the ingredients on the table and get each person to build their own san choy bao. Serve immediately, with lime wedges if desired, and with lots of napkins because the dish can be messy to eat. 

Addie Broyles writes about food for the Austin American-Statesman in Austin, Texas. She can be reached at abroyles@statesman.com, or follow her on Twitter at @broylesa.