Lettuce wraps, a flavorful dish to to try on your own

Sherra Owino, Assistant Editor

Anyone who’s visited the upscale Asian restaurant P.F. Chang’s has probably heard of their lettuce wraps. There are those who love them and those who have yet to taste them. Rarely have I found someone who doesn’t care for them at all. With the option of chicken or tofu, it’s hard to go wrong.

While the lettuce wraps recipe on allrecipes.com isn’t exactly the same as P.F. Chang’s, it can certainly satisfy those tangy cravings. One really nice part of these is the sauce is cooked right in, so there’s a little less drippy mess without shorting the taste.

Because I live in a smaller city with simple grocery stores, I did have to get some ingredients online; however, larger stores with more options or an Asian grocery might be just the ticket. I was pleasantly surprised how basic this was based on the flavorful experience.

For the most part, I followed the recipe exactly apart from two things. Firstly, I didn’t need to drain the grease from the meat once it was cooked. I used lower fat beef and less oil so that saved a step. Secondly, I used a very large onion (too large) and, upon looking at the pan being overrun by the potent vegetable, decided to take part of it out which gave more balance. The recipe calls for a large onion, but I would say it’s not necessary to pick the largest option. Just an average size would be sufficient.

I can’t imagine these wraps would have as much flavor if any ingredients were omitted (apart from the chili pepper sauce that’s optional) so be sure you collect everything…and then find other tasty dishes to continue to use these wonderful sauces.

As always, bon appetit!

16 Boston Bibb or butter lettuce leaves
1 pound lean ground beef
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 large onion, chopped
¼ cup hoisin sauce
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons minced pickled ginger
1 dash Asian chili pepper sauce, or to taste (Optional)
1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 teaspoons Asian (dark) sesame oil

Step 1 : Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry, being careful not to tear them. Set aside.

Step 2: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir beef and cooking oil in the hot skillet until browned and crumbly, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and discard grease. Transfer beef to a bowl. Cook and stir onion in the same skillet used for beef until slightly tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir hoisin sauce, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, and chili pepper sauce into onions. Add water chestnuts, green onions, sesame oil, and cooked beef; cook and stir until the onions begin to wilt, about 2 minutes.

Step 3: Arrange lettuce leaves around the outer edge of a large serving platter and pile meat mixture in the center.