Don’t you just love lettuce wraps? Such a satisfyingly delicious, low-carb meal! The filling is so addictive that it’s hard not to keep grabbing for a another lettuce leaf so you can spoon that yummy seasoned meat filling into the center and down just one more. Then another. Ok, just one last one…
In fact, lettuce wraps are SO enticing, I used it to bribe my Sam for a visit. Sam works in the grocery industry, and he usually works nights. So, although he lives a mere 10 miles or so away, it’s not easy to get to see him. I hadn’t seen Sam since Father’s Day, so I called him and told him I was going to post lettuce wraps. After a quick “YES!”, he suggested he could come for a late lunch after he woke up the next morning. I knew he would bite…hook, line, and sinker. 🙂
I have tried to make lettuce wraps that taste just like P.F. Chang’s many times before settling on this recipe. And while the other recipes were super tasty, many tasted nothing like P.F. Chang’s. I have found many, many copy cat recipes, and surprisingly, they are all over the place on how to get that copy cat taste. So, like many of the dishes I end up calling “keepers”, this one is a mish-mash of all of those that I have read and/or tried. And my family is very, very happy with it.
let’s make some turkey lettuce wraps
These are the things I found important to include in my recipe:
The original lettuce wrap uses chicken, but I prefer turkey. I think turkey is more tender, and it seems to take on sauces and seasonings a little better.
Ground versus chopped. I see lots of recipes calling for chopped chicken. Chicken can have very dense meat. Ground meat gives you nice, small, tender bite feels.
Keep the ingredients as authentic as possible. For instance, I found recipes that called for ketchup. Although not Asian, ketchup, combined with other ingredients, could very well get you to the right flavor profile. But ketchup has a lot of sugar. To me, there is enough sugar in the hoisin. So no ketchup.
Butter lettuce instead of iceberg. Although I love the crunch of iceberg lettuce, it is often very difficult to separate the leaves without breaking them into pieces that are too small to hold the filling comfortably. Butter lettuce makes perfect little cups, and the leaves are silky and tender.
And finally, this recipe allows you to cook both the meat and sauce in the same pan. Simplicity and ease was important too.
An optional twist is to fry some rice noodles for texture and garnish. For that, you need dry rice noodles like these.
But if you don’t want to make the extra effort, don’t sweat it. The lettuce wraps taste just fine without them.
These noodles are super easy and fun to make. Heat 2 cups of oil in a deep, wide pan until the oil is VERY hot.
Using kitchen shears, cut a handful of the dry noodles so that they are about 4-5 inches long, and separate a few so they are not tightly clumped together.
Test the oil temperature by throwing one noodle into the hot oil. It should puff up immediately. If not, the oil is not hot enough.
When ready, throw in one handful of the cut noodles. It will expand into a big puff of strings like the one above. Using a wide, slotted spoon, flip the puff over and cook for just a few seconds more. Don’t overcook or they will brown, which will change their flavor.
Lift from the oil, drain, and transfer to a paper-lined platter. This batch represents 3 handfuls, and only about 1/6 of the bag of noodles, so they go a long way. It is way more than I needed, but I wanted to show how they puff and grow.
Sprinkle lightly with salt and set aside.
Then in a large skillet, brown the turkey in the sesame oil, breaking the meat into small crumbles.
Once the meat is brown, add everything but the green onions.
Stir and cook until the white onion is translucent and most of the juices have reduced, about 10 minutes.
Then turn off the burner and stir in the green onions. I prefer not to cook them because I like their bright, herby flavor. So I just let them wilt a bit in the heat of the cooked filling.
And you are set! See how easy that was? And SO delicious! Looking at these photos of our lunch makes my mouth water all over again.
Sam showed up just as I finished snapping the photos. Perfect timing!
A few little puffy noodles, a nice spoonful of warm, rich filling, a little dab of chili and garlic sauce for some heat, and you have a little packet of heavenly goodness.
Sam and I had a great lunch. We enjoyed these delicious lettuce wraps and we caught up on stuff. I love spending time with my boy.
So, make a quick lettuce wrap meal and gather your family. It will be a tasty good time!
Turkey Lettuce Wraps
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 cup white or sweet onion chopped small
- 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger peeled and finely diced
- 1 teaspoon Srirach sauce
- 1 can 8-ounce sliced water chestnuts, chopped small
- 3 green onions thinly sliced
- 1 head butter lettuce
- FOR FRIED RICE NOODLES OPTIONAL
- 1 -2 handfuls of dry rice noodles
- 2 cups vegetable or peanut oil
- If making the FRIED RICE NOODLES, heat 2 cups of oil in a deep, wide pan until very hot.
- Using kitchen shears, cut a handful of dry noodles so that they are about 4-5 inches long.
- Separate slightly so they are not tightly clumped together.
- Test oil temperature by throwing one noodle into the hot oil. It should puff up immediately. If not, the oil is not hot enough.
- When ready, throw in one handful of the cut noodles. It will expand into a big puff of strings.
- With a wide, slotted spoon, flip the puff over and cook for just a few seconds more.
- Do not brown.
- Transfer to a paper-lined platter to drain, sprinkle lightly with salt, and set aside.
- Make another handful if more is needed.
- TO MAKE THE LETTUCE WRAPS:
- Remove whole leaves from the head of butter lettuce and stack on a serving platter.
- In a large skillet, brown the ground turkey in the sesame oil into small crumbles.
- Add all the ingredients except the green onions. Stir to distribute.
- Cook, stirring, until the chopped onion is translucent and much of the moisture had been reduced.
- Turn off the burner and stir in the green onion.
- Spoon a tablespoon or two of cooked filling into a lettuce leaf, optionally adding some fried rice noodles.
- Serve warm.