Thai-Inspired Turkey Mini-Meatball Lettuce Wraps
I love these Turkey Mini-Meatball Lettuce Wraps with spicy Thai Flavors! And these delicious lettuce wraps are low-carb, Keto, low-glycemic, gluten-free (with gluten-free fish sauce and soy sauce), dairy-free, and South Beach Diet Phase One. Use the Recipes-by-Diet-Type Index to find more recipes like this one.
It was pure serendipity that I discovered this recipe for ultra flavorful little turkey meatballs, served inside lettuce leaves with a spicy Thai-style sauce, some diced cucumber, and fresh mint. I didn’t have anything like Thai-Inspired Turkey Mini-Meatball Lettuce Wraps
in mind when I thawed out a pound of ground turkey; I was actually thinking about using it in the Horseradish Meatloaf
, before I changed my mind.
So there I was with a pound of turkey that needed to be used, and when I need recipe ideas in a hurry, I often stand in front of my wall of cookbooks and just flip through books, using the index to see what recipes I can find for that ingredient. I found this recipe in The South Beach Diet Taste of Summer Cookbook, but this is a recipe I’d enjoy all year, maybe substituting cilantro for the mint when it’s out of season.
I’ve been scolded a few times for not specifying ground turkey breast, which the South Beach cookbooks usually call for, but I use this ground turkey that’s only 10% fat, which fits the guideline for “lean meat with less than 10% fat” that the South Beach books specify.
One of the main changes I made to the recipe was to increase the amount of the spicy dressing made of fish sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and hot pepper flakes. I must have been feeling lazy, because I just stirred this together with the measuring spoon! (If you’re not that familiar with fish sauce, you might want to decrease it a bit. I love Thai food and used the Three Crabs Fish Sauce
I got from my step-sister Karyn after I learned about it from Lydia
In another bowl, stir together the minced garlic, grated fresh ginger root, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and soy sauce that you’ll be adding to the turkey. (I mixed this all together to be sure that flavors were well-blended.)
Add that mixture into the meat, then stir a few times to get the seasoning mixture distributed throughout the meat. (The meat mixture is really soft in this recipe, and if you have lots of time I would chill the turkey at this point before making the meatballs.)
I used a metal 1 T measuring spoon to make small meatballs, which turned out to make exactly 24 small meatballs like the recipe said. I was afraid the turkey would stick in the pan, so I heated a couple of teaspoons of peanut oil before I started frying the meatballs. Fry 12 meatballs at a time, or as many as you can fit without crowding them in the pan.
While meatballs are frying, pull mint leaves off the stem, wash, and spin dry (or use chopped cilantro if you prefer) and cut the cucumber into matchstick pieces (or just chop the cucumber if you don’t want to be that fancy.) I arranged the cucumber, dressing, and mint on a plate so it was ready to garnish the lettuce wraps.
As I said, the meatballs were really soft, and next time I might make little meat patties instead, but even though a few meatballs fell apart, they tasted fantastic.
I love butter lettuce which the recipe called for, but I had romaine hearts in the fridge, so I just used the sweet inner pieces of romaine to wrap the meatballs. Put 2 or 3 meatballs inside a lettuce leaf, spoon some dressing over, and garnish with chopped cucumber and mint leaves (or chopped cilantro.) Yum! This was seriously good, and a nice alternative to salads for phase one!
Thai-Inspired Turkey Mini-Meatball Lettuce Wraps
(Makes 8-12 lettuce wraps, depending on how many meatballs you put in each, recipe adapted slightly from The South Beach Diet Taste of Summer Cookbook.)
4 T fish sauce (I like Three Crabs Fish Sauce, if you’re not that used to fish sauce you might decrease it a little)
4 T rice vinegar (don’t use seasoned vinegar, which contains sugar)
2 tsp. Asian sesame oil
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (more or less to taste, this was moderately spicy with this amount)
1 lb. ground turkey (use turkey with not more than 10% fat for South Beach Diet)
1 tsp. finely minced garlic
1 T grated fresh ginger root
1 T Asian sesame oil
2 tsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. soy sauce (regular or low sodium)
2 tsp. + 1 tsp. peanut oil or grapeseed oil (for frying meatballs)
Lettuce and Garnish Ingredients:
1 small cucumber, cut in thin slices, then sliced into matchstick pieces
3/4 cup mint leaves (or use chopped cilantro if you prefer or when fresh mint isn’t available)
8-12 lettuce leaves (I used romaine lettuce, but you could use other types, especially butter lettuce)
Mix together the fish sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes and let the dressing flavors blend while you make and cook the meatballs.
Chop garlic and grate fresh ginger root, then add sesame oil, rice vinegar, and soy sauce. Put ground turkey in a bowl, then use a large spoon to mix in the seasoning mixture. (The meat mixture is very soft. If you’re not rushed for time I would chill the turkey mixture for 20-30 minutes before making the meatballs, or just make small patties instead of meatballs.)
Heat 2 tsp. peanut or grapeseed oil in a large heavy frying pan, then use a tablespoon-sized measuring cup to scoop out turkey to make meatballs (or small patties), adding each one to the hot pan as you make them. Cook the meatballs in two batches so you don’t crowd the pan, cooking each batch until the outside is lightly browned and they’re cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. (I added the other tsp. of oil when I cooked the second batch.)
While meatballs cook, wash and dry mint leaves (or chop cilantro) and cut the cucumber into thin slices, then slice into matchstick pieces. (You can also just chop the cucumber if you don’t want to be that fancy.) Wash and dry lettuce leaves. (I used just the tender sweet inside leaves and saved the rest for salad.)
When meatballs are done, make lettuce wraps by putting 2-3 meatballs inside a piece of lettuce, drizzling on sauce, and topping with cucumber and mint or cilantro. If you make this for a dinner party, it would be fun to let guests assemble their own, and I’m betting you won’t have any leftovers!
Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
This recipe is suitable for any kind of low-carb or low-glycemic diet plan. Made with low-fat ground turkey, this would also be approved for any phase of the South Beach Diet, and it’s a great alternative to salads for phase one. It’s definitely a mix of cuisines, but I think this would taste great with Spicy Mexican Slaw
for for a low-carb meal.
Find More Recipes Like This One:
If you want nutritional information for a recipe, you can sign up for a free membership with Yummly
and use the Yum button on my site to save the recipe and see the nutritional information. Another option is entering the recipe into this Recipe Nutrition Analyzer
, which will calculate it for you.
More Lettuce Wrap Ideas to Try:
The BEST Slow Cooker Lettuce Wraps with Beef, Chicken, Pork, or Turkey ~ Slow Cooker from Scratch
Asian Lettuce Cups (or wraps) with Spicy Ground Turkey Filling from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Asian Lettuce Cups with Ground Turkey and Green Apple from Steamy Kitchen
Turkey Lettuce Wrap Tacos with Chiles, Cumin, Cilantro, Lime, and Tomato-Avocado Salsa from Kalyn’s Kitchen