Spicy Ground Turkey Lettuce Wraps are a delicious low-carb meal, and this recipe is also Keto, dairy-free, and South Beach Diet phase one, and with the right ingredient choices it can be gluten-free, Paleo or Whole 30! Use the Recipes-by-Diet-Type Index to find more recipes like this one.
I vividly remember when I first had lettuce wraps, at a Chinese restaurant in Salt Lake where a friend named Mike was hip enough to order them even though they weren't on the menu. This was about 20 years ago; now lettuce wraps like these Asian Lettuce Cups (or wraps) with Spicy Ground Turkey Filling are somewhat mainstream, and made with lean ground turkey like this, they make a wonderfully low-carb and South South Beach Diet friendly dinner option.
This dish with spicy meat eaten inside pieces of lettuce can be called lettuce wraps or lettuce cups, but I like to pile up the lettuce cup with lots of filling rather than wrapping it, so I'm calling them lettuce cups.
Start with finely minced red onion (or shallots), garlic, and ginger, which are sauteed in oil before the meat is added.
Then add ground turkey, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, and a touch of fish sauce and saute until the meat is well done and infused with all the other flavors. (The original recipe had a bit of sugar, which I intended to substitute for Splenda and just forgot to add. I tested the recipe on my sister Pam and brother-in-law Kelly and they both agreed it wasn't missed.)
While the ground turkey was cooking, I used the bowl attachment of my immersion blender to finely chop about half a bunch of fresh cilantro. If it was summer and I had herbs from my garden, I might have chopped some fresh mint to garnish the lettuce cups.
Add the chopped cilantro to the cooked meat mixture and cook a few minutes more.
Cut out the core from a head of Boston lettuce, butter lettuce, or even iceberg lettuce, wash the lettuce and spin dry, and you're ready to eat!
You could make a meal out of these lettuce wraps, but if you want a heartier dinner, Chinese Cucumber Salad would be a good side dish for a low-carb meal.
Asian Lettuce Cups with Spicy Ground Turkey Filling
(Makes 4-6 servings, recipe adapted from California Sol Food, a great cookbook I got as a gift from Alice Q. Foodie, who I met when I visited San Diego.)
1 T peanut oil or vegetable oil (or slightly more, depending on the pan you have)
3 T minced red onion or shallots
2 T minced garlic (I used minced garlic from a jar but fresh garlic would be even better)
2 T grated ginger root
1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey
4 T soy sauce (I used Tamari; use gluten-free soy sauce if needed. For Paleo use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.)
1 T Chile Garlic Sauce (or slightly more if you like spicy foods; look for a version without sugar for Paleo)
1 tsp. fish sauce (probably optional, although I like fish sauce!)
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro (about 1/2 large bunch)
1/3 cup chopped peanuts (optional, especially for braces wearers!)
1 large head or 2 small heads Boston Lettuce or butter lettuce, or substitute 1 head iceberg lettuce
Chop onion and set aside. Peel ginger root, then grate with the large side of a cheese grater, and chop garlic if using fresh garlic. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan, add onion and saute about 2 minutes, then add garlic and ginger root and saute about one minute more.
Add ground turkey to frying pan (with a bit more oil if needed) and break apart and spread out with turner, then add soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, and fish sauce. Cook until the turkey is brown and crumbling apart, and the sauce is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.
While turkey cooks, wash and chop fresh cilantro to make 1 cup. Remove the core end from lettuce, separate leaves, and wash in salad spinner and spin dry (or wash under running water and dry with paper towels.) Chop peanuts and put in small bowl to serve at the table.
When turkey is done, add chopped cilantro and cook 1-2 minutes more. Serve filling and lettuce leaves in separate bowls, with chopped peanuts in another small bowl. Each person takes a lettuce leaf, fills with desired amount of turkey mixture, adds chopped peanuts, and then eats the mixture from the lettuce cup. I fold the lettuce cup over when I eat it, so it's kind of taco-shaped, but some people like to wrap the lettuce clear around the filling.
Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
With lean ground turkey and other low-carb ingredients, this is a perfect dinner option for any phase of the South Beach Diet or other low-carb eating plans. If you use gluten-free soy sauce or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce this can easily be suitable for gluten-free or Paleo/Whole 30 eaters.
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More Versions of Lettuce Wraps or Lettuce Cups
The BEST Slow Cooker Lettuce Wraps with Beef, Chicken, Pork, or Turkey ~ Slow Cooker from Scratch
Lettuce-Wrapped Chicken from Rasa Malaysia
Ground Beef Gyro Meatball Lettuce Wraps with Tzatziki and Tomatoes from Kalyn's Kitchen
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This recipe was first featured for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Haalo, from Cook Almost Anything.