Friday, September 3, 2010

Asian Lettuce Wraps

Disclaimer: I'm married to a Chemist and to him cooking is like chemistry in that you must follow the recipe word for word and MEASURE everything! (I usually just shake, sprinkle and eyeball my ingredients and it drives him nuts.) I must say that he is a fabulous cook, especially when it comes to an intricate recipe that requires patience and lots of work. I on the other hand like to tweak and change recipes as I go along but I don't inform him of this until I see the smile of enjoyment on his face after he has taken the first bite. Tonight's experience was no exception. (*wink*) He loved this recipe! It's an even greater compliment that my husband enjoyed my version of an Asian dish because he lived in Taiwan for two years and he knows what the authentic food really tastes like.

Tonight I really wanted to make Asian Lettuce Wraps because I had a 3-pack of iceberg lettuce I needed to use but I didn't have ground chicken like I used in my previous posting for this recipe. I had a package of ground turkey so I searched online to see if any recipes use this ingredient in place of chicken. (We love the taste of ground turkey and use it often as a healthy alternate to ground beef.)  When I couldn't find a recipe that looked tasty or didn't require ingredients that were not in my cupboard I decided to wing it. To my husband's great pleasure the recipe turned out fabulous! Even better was that my kids LOVED this! It isn't often that my 7 year old is the last one to leave the table but tonight she was. 

Asian Lettuce Wraps
(Who "Dished" it first? Me!)

1 pound ground turkey
1/2 of a red bell pepper (about 1/2 cup), diced
2-3 stalks celery, diced very small
1/2 cup finely grated carrots
1-2 teaspoons garlic
2 green onions, finely diced (I didn't have any so I used a shake or two of onion powder)

Sauce: (I have seen sauce recipes that include sesame oil and hot sauce but I was all out and I wanted to keep the heat out of this recipe for my kids' sake.)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar (I didn't have any tonight so I used apple cider vinegar)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger

Brown the ground turkey in a sauce pan drizzled with olive oil. Add the vegetables when the meat is cooked and saute for 1-2 minutes. (You can reserve the carrots to add at the very end. I've done that before but tried this tonight where I add them at the beginning at since they were so finely shredded I didn't taste a noticeable difference. I think the real difference is presentation and preserving the bright orange color.) Add three-quarters of the sauce mixture, reserving the remaining sauce for dipping. Simmer this mixture until the sauce is reduced and there is almost no liquid in the pan. While this is simmering wash, dry and separate your lettuce leaves. When the meat mixture is prepared serve it on individual lettuce leaves dribbling a spoonful of the reserved sauce on top of each. 

**My notes: The soy sauce mixture can be salty so I would use low-sodium soy sauce if you have it. Traditionally lettuce wraps are served with the reserved sauce for dipping but my family is usually happy without the extra sauce. In fact, recently I'm experimenting with adding less than 3/4 cups of sauce to the meat mixture. Leave a comment to tell me if you like it with less sauce.
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