Although we prepared several wonderful dishes on Super Bowl Sunday, the absolute champion was Kayla’s Thai Lettuce Wraps.
She decided to make Thai Lettuce Wraps only after taking inventory of the ingredients I brought into the house and set on the table: freshly picked bibb and red salad and buttercrunch lettuce, baby cabbage leaves, new carrots from the garden, fresh ginger root, cilantro, ground pork, and etc. (All of these ingredients are available freshly picked every day at Coastal Bend Health Foods.)
For someone like me, who relies heavily on recipes, it is endlessly fascinating to watch a clever chef create delicious recipes from scratch, based on the ingredients at hand. As a dietician, Kayla has a knack for creating dishes that are also healthy and nutritious.
Once I started eating the lettuce wraps, I could not put them down. Our other dishes–baked potatoes stuffed with bacon, chives, and cheese; Four String sausage dogs topped with grilled onions and English mustard on homemade buns; collard greens; and more—went into the fridge to make hearty farm lunches during the dreary post-football season week.
So, while we salute Eli and the New York Giants, the real Super Bowl Champion was the Thai Lettuce Wraps!
Why this recipe is excellent: This dish is extremely fresh; every bite is a crunchy taste of vegetable goodness. The pork filling is spicy and flavorful with an Asian flare. The wraps are not messy—the long freshly picked lettuce leaf is the perfect wrapper for the pork filling. This dish is extremely healthy; you can go back for guilt-free seconds. If you are eating this dish with a group, get all the wraps you want up front, because there may be none on the second pass.
(Serves 4, or apparently 1 if you are Justin)
2 tbsp sesame seed oil
½ onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, mostly seeded, finely minced
1 lb ground pork
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Pinch of salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 heaping tbsp fresh ginger, finely grated
Shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
6 or so tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 generous splash mirin (rice wine)
1 splash rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp packed brown sugar
Juice of 1 lime
Wrap and Toppings
12 large lettuce leaves, rinsed well and dried (Recommended: Bibb)
5 baby carrots, finely julienned
Cabbage, finely shredded
To prepare: Heat oil in a pan on medium heat. Add onion and jalapeno, sautéing until tender. Add ground pork, salt and red pepper. When pork is almost completely browned, add garlic, ginger, and mushrooms, cooking for an additional minute until fragrant. Stir in liquids and brown sugar. Increase heat to high and cook until liquids reach a rolling boil. Remove from heat. Finish with squeezed lime.
To assemble wraps, place pork filling, carrot, cabbage and cilantro on a large lettuce leaf. Fold leaf around filling or roll like a burrito to prevent filling from coming out. Enjoy.