Friday, March 09, 2012

Recipe for Asian Lettuce Wraps (or Cups) with Pork, Napa Cabbage, and Red Bell Pepper

Asian Pork Lettuce Wraps
These Asian Lettuce Cups with Pork, Napa Cabbage, and Red Bell Pepper were really a treat.

(For Phase One Fridays I highlight Phase One recipes from the past that have been my personal favorites.  These Asian Lettuce Wraps with Pork, Napa Cabbage, and Red Bell Peppers are something I've made over and over when I'm doing Phase One.)

Tonight for dinner I'm looking forward to eating leftovers from these lettuce wraps for the second time, and if you saw how much food accumulates in my fridge you'd realize that means these lettuce wraps are really good!  We're doing Phase One Recipes for the month of January, and I think flavorful lettuce wraps are really a treat for Phase One.  This recipe was adapted from The South Beach Diet Quick and Easy Cookbook, and the recipe was for lettuce rolls, but when I couldn't get the lettuce to roll up very well I switched gears and decided to make them lettuce wraps.  If you like the idea of lettuce cups or lettuce wraps for phase one (or any time you want a healthy meal without many carbs) there are some other good ideas after the recipe.

You may be wondering just what's the difference between a lettuce wrap and a lettuce cup.  Here's my take on that.  If the lettuce leaves are large enough that you can wrap them all the way around the filling, that's what I'd call a lettuce wrap.  On the other hand, if you're using smaller lettuce leaves that you just fill,  cup in your hand, and eat without folding them over, I'd call that a lettuce cup. Whichever way you eat these they'll be delicious I promise.

I changed the dressing mixture from the original recipe and also made more dressing, ending up with a mixture of fish sauce, rice vinegar, ginger puree, garlic puree, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes.

Thinly slice 2-3 cups of napa cabbage (a bit less than half a head.)

Cut up one red bell pepper into thin strips.

Toss the shredded napa cabbage and red pepper strips together in a bowl.

Break apart the lettuce into leaves, wash, and spin dry (or dry with paper towels.)  I used Boston lettuce, but I think Romaine or Iceberg lettuce are also good for lettuce wraps if you want something that's less expensive.

To get pork cutlets, I used those thick pork chops from Costco, cut them in half crosswise, and then pounded the halves until they were thin.  (Next time I'd pound a bit more enthusiastically and make them even thinner.)

Heat the peanut or canola oil in a heavy frying pan, then cook the pork cutlets until both sides are lightly brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.

Cut the pork into thin strips.  (Next time I'd cut some of those wider strips in half again; I've been doing that when I reheat the leftovers.)

Toss the cooked pork strips with about 2 T of the dressing.  Toss the shredded napa cabbage and red pepper strip mixture with another 2 T of the dressing.

To assemble the lettuce wraps (or cups) put about 6-8 strips of pork and top with a small handful of the napa cabbage and red pepper mixture.  I like to add a teaspoon of extra dressing on top.  Fold over or cup in your hand and eat!

Asian Lettuce Wraps (or Cups) with Pork, Napa Cabbage and Red Bell Pepper
(Makes about 8 lettuce wraps or 4 main-dish servings, recipe adapted from The South Beach Diet Quick and Easy Cookbook.)

Dressing Ingredients:
3 T  Fish Sauce (I'm partial to Three Crabs Fish Sauce which I discovered from The Perfect Pantry)
3 T rice vinegar (not seasoned rice vinegar which contains sugar)
2 tsp. garlic puree or finely minced fresh garlic
2 tsp. ginger puree or finely minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. Asian sesame oil
pinch red pepper flakes

Ingredients:
1 lb. pork cutlets (I used two large pork loin chops, cut in half crosswise and pounded thin)
salt and fresh ground black pepper, to season pork before cooking
1 T peanut or canola oil
2-3 cups shredded napa cabbage (less than half a head, sliced thin)
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
8 leaves Boston, Iceberg, or Romaine lettuce, washed and dried

Instructions:
In a small bowl whisk together the fish sauce, rice vinegar, garlic puree, ginger puree, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes.  Set dressing aside.

Thinly slice the napa cabbage and cut the red bell pepper into strips.  Put napa cabbage and bell pepper strips into a bowl and toss together.  Wash lettuce and spin dry or dry with paper towels.

Cut pork chops in half to make thin cutlets, then pound with a meat mallet (or something heavy) until the pork is about 1/4 inch thick.  (Next time I would pound mine a bit thinner than the photos.)  Season pork with salt and fresh ground black pepper on both sides.  Heat oil in heavy frying pan and cook pork cutlets until lightly browned on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side.  Cut the cooked pork into thin strips and toss with about 2 T of the dressing mixture.

Toss the napa cabbage and red pepper mixture with 2 T of the dressing mixture.  Then assemble lettuce wraps or cups by putting 6-8 strips of pork in each lettuce leaf, topped with a small handful of the napa cabbage and bell pepper mixture.  I like to add about a teaspoon of extra dressing on top.  Fold over or cup in your hand and enjoy!

If you're not going to eat all the lettuce wraps at once, toss the cooked pork with dressing but only add dressing to as much of the napa cabbage/bell pepper mixture as you're going to use.  Refrigerate ingredients separately.  I reheated the pork strips when I ate the leftovers, but it's not essential.


South Beach Suggestions: 
Everything in this recipe is a  low-glycemic ingredient, making these lettuce wraps a great choice for any phase of the South Beach Diet

More Lettuce Wraps You Might Like:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Asian Lettuce Cups (or Wraps) with Spicy Ground Turkey Filling from Kalyn's Kitchen
Turkey Lettuce Wrap Tacos with Chiles, Cumin, Cilantro, Lime, and Tomato-Avocado Salsa from Kalyn's Kitchen
Pork and Green Bean Lettuce Wraps with Sesame Hoisin Sauce from Cookin' Canuck
Asian Ground Beef Lettuce Wraps from Dine and Dish
Pork Lettuce Wraps from Tasty Eats at Home
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.) counter customizable free hit

20 comments:

  1. I'd substitute chicken breast for the pork, because I'm not a pork gal, but wouldn't change another thing. These lettuce cups look wonderful.

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  2. Lettuce wraps are very kid-friendly, and a great way to get kids to eat healthier veggies like napa or regular cabbage. Your dressing is right up my alley. Love all the flavors!

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  3. Not sure I would be a fan of fish sauce. Is there a substitute you can suggest?

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  4. Lydia, thanks. I did indeed love them, especially with the Three Crabs fish sauce.

    Jeanette and Pam, thanks. Me too. :)

    Onna, you could try substituting soy sauce for the fish sauce. I might use a bit less soy sauce than the recipe calls for.

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  5. I've been looking for something Asian on Phase One and this just might fill the bill - it has all my favorites in it. Thanks, Kalyn!

    Doing well so far. I liked what the scale had to say this morning.

    Halfway through Phase One!

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  6. Mimi, good job. The scale was looking good around here this morning as well.

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  7. I love how this is healthy and colorful! I need to use lettuce wraps (or cups) much more often. Look delicious.

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  8. @Onna- I thought the same thing and avoided trying fish sauce for many years. I finally broke down and bought a small bottle. It's very salty and has a fish flavor, but only enhances flavors when used in recipes. It doesn't overwhelm. Give it a try, even using less than called for in a recipe the first time if you're still feeling hesitant. You'll be glad you did.

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  9. Looks delicious and seems so easy to do! I'm gonna do tofu instead, no fish sauce and add brown rice.

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  10. These look really, really good, Kalyn. With either pork or chicken, I know I'd love them. ;-) I know what you mean about pork though. One often has to cut it much smaller/thinner than one would chicken. I'm not sure I can get hubby to try the lettuce cups or wraps (although I love them), so I will do those while I put his filling in a tortilla (easy solution). ;-)

    Shirley

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  11. Merut, thanks. Lettuce wraps are definitely one of my favorites.

    CJ, thanks for chiming in on the fish sauce. I agree with everything you have said, but I also think it may not be for everyone.

    Esper love to hear how that version turns out.

    Shirley, great idea to offer tortillas for those who want them.

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  12. Lettuce wraps are one of my favorite meals. Not only are they fun to eat, but they are filled with all of the flavors I enjoy most. Wonderful recipe for healthy eating!

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  13. Hi Kalyn,

    Though this is unrelated to today's post, I just wanted to say THANK YOU for this blog site and all the incredible information and recipes in it.

    I have been on South Beach for 7 days, and have lost 6 pounds! Hating the scale less and less each day!
    I spent an hour or better last night perusing your site for helpful information and recipes. You are awesome, and I am amazed that you have been keeping this going for so long. I loved reviewing your Top 10's from the last several years.

    I have your Southwestern Egg Casserole in the oven right now, and it smells delicious!

    Thanks again, I'll be back for sure!!

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  14. Dara, me too! I bet the kids like them too.

    Chelyse, thanks for the nice feedback. The blog helps keep me on track with my own weight, so I plan to keep it up as long as I can!

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  15. I love lettuce wraps and these look fantastic! Totally making this recipe!

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  16. Kalyn, this looks very delicious and refreshing. I love shrimp so I can just substitute pork with shrimp. Happy New Year!

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  17. Kristen, I loved them.

    Thanks Bee, Happy New Year to you too!

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  18. Just made these tonight for dinner. Very yummy, lots of "umame". although a bit too vinegary for my hubby. I've made a small change to the recipe and we're looking forward to the next time! JD :-)

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  19. Glad you liked it, and I'm all in favor of adapting recipes to suit your personal taste!

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