Wrap Up Your Old Recipes. Try Lettuce Wraps


One of the toughest tasks during the entertaining  is to come up with recipes for appi- teasers  that aren’t the same old same old  fish, soup or salad. While tradition has its place sometimes you just need to think outside the preverbal recipe box and re imagine what you might like to serve to start out a special meal.

            This year, for a first course let’s try lettuce wraps. Delicious, simple, easy to make ahead of time, really beautiful to see and most importantly, they’re different. The following recipes have all been taste tested and have passed my personal “yes I’d serve these to my mother” 5 point check list. Some of the ingredients are a little more difficult to find  but I can suggest that you try the specialty sections or your grocery store or if you keep kosher, the internet and sites like www.kosher.com and www.mykoshermarket.com.

NOTE: If you can’t find kosher certified fish sauce or the rice wine I suggest you use the SoyVey products (ie  Teriyaki sauce) instead. You can always use a kosher certified Thai peanut sauce in a pinch.


2 medium carrots, peeled, cut into matchsticks

1/2 cucumber peeled, cut into matchsticks

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

1/4 cup thinly sliced red peppers, (you can use 1 jalapeno and the rest red bell)  

2 tablespoons lime juice or rice vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)

2 cups skinless smoked trout fillets, broken into bite-size pieces

1 cup diced tomatoes

1/2 cup whole mint leaves

1/2 cup small whole fresh basil leaves

16 small to medium inner leaves of romaine lettuce (from about 2 hearts of romaine)

1/3 cup (about) sweet chili sauce

1/4 cup finely chopped lightly salted dry-roasted peanuts

Place the carrot and cucumber pieces in large bowl. Add green onions, peppers, lime juice, sugar, and fish sauce; let marinate 30 minutes at room temperature.

Add trout pieces and tomatoes to the vegetables and mix to combine. Drain the mixture and then return the mixture to the bowl; add in the mint and basil and toss to combine. Arrange lettuce leaves on large platter. Divide trout salad among lettuce leaves. Drizzle sweet chili sauce over each salad and sprinkle with peanuts.

2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine) or white wine
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon wasabi paste (see note)
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh parsley
4 green onions, thinly sliced on diagonal
1/2 cup 1/4-inch-cubes peeled jicama
2 large avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
3 cups shredded chicken
12 to 16 butter lettuce leaves
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
In a large bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, mirin, soy sauce, sesame oil, kosher salt and wasabi paste. Add the parsley, green onions and jicama;
toss to coat. Gently stir in avocados. Divide the avocado salsa and shredded chicken among the lettuce leaves. Top each with toasted sesame seeds and serve 3 to 4 wraps per person. Serves 4.
Note: Find Wasabi paste in most supermarkets in the Asian foods aisle or with other sushi ingredients, or at an Asian market.


This recipe is from Todd Wilbur and Top Secret Recipes

3 tablespoons oil

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 cup water chestnut

2/3 cup mushroom

3 tablespoons chopped onions

1 teaspoon minced garlic

4-5 leaves iceberg lettuce

Special Sauce

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons ketchup

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon hot mustard

2 teaspoons water

1-2 teaspoon garlic and red chile paste

Stir Fry Sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

Make the special sauce by dissolving the sugar in water in a small bowl.

Add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, lemon juice and sesame oil.

Mix well and refrigerate this sauce until you’re ready to serve. Combine the hot water with the hot mustard and set this aside as well. Eventually add your desired measurement of mustard and garlic chili sauce to the special sauce mixture to pour over the wraps.

Bring oil to high heat in a wok or large frying pan. Sauté chicken breasts for 4 to 5 minutes per side or done. Remove chicken from the pan and cool. Keep oil in the pan, keep hot. As chicken cools mince water chestnuts and mushrooms to about the size of small peas. Prepare the stir fry sauce by mixing the soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar together in a small bowl. When chicken is cool, mince it as the mushrooms and water chestnuts are. With the pan still on high heat, add another Tbsp of vegetable oil. Add chicken, garlic, onions, water chestnuts and mushrooms to the pan. Add the stir fry sauce to the pan and saute the mixture for a couple minutes then serve it in the lettuce” cups”. top with” Special Sauce”. Makes 4 appetizer servings. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.


2 limes, juiced (about 1⁄4 cup)

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons chili paste

2 teaspoons fish sauce

2 cups roasted peanuts or cashews, roughly chopped.

2/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (leaves and stems)

12 Bibb lettuce leaves (about 1 head)

3 cups fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into bite-size chunks

Kosher salt
Whisk the lime juice, sugar, chili paste, and fish sauce in a bowl until the sugar dissolves. Add the peanuts and cilantro and stir until combined. When ready to serve, arrange the lettuce leaves on a large platter. Put about 1⁄4 cup of pineapple in each leaf and season with salt to taste. Top the pineapple with the nut mixture. Serves 4.

1 head Iceberg lettuce
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 red chili – 1 de-seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped onion or 2 small shallots diced
1/2 cup extra firm tofu cut into thin slices
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
4 green onions sliced thin
2 cups bean sprouts
2 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup chopped dry roasted peanuts, optional
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped

Cut off stem of iceberg lettuce and separate the leaves and place in a bowl of ice cubes so that they become cold and crisp. Heat oil in a wok or a large frying pan.

Add garlic, ginger, red chilies and shallots and sauté until translucent. Add the tofu, carrot, cabbage and spring onion and stir fry for a couple of minutes.

Add the lime juice and soy sauce. Add the bean sprout and stir fry for a minute and remove from heat. Take a whole lettuce leaf and place 2 or 3 tablespoons of filling in the center. Top with fresh basil. Add roasted peanuts (optional) Make into a wrap and enjoy.


1/2 pound ground beef
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons Teriyaki sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon chili paste
1/4 teaspoon hot chili oil
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
Iceberg lettuce leaves, crisped in ice water, drained
2  cups shredded cabbage (store bought is fine)

2 cups cooked rice
1/2 cup green onions, sliced

In a skillet over medium high heat sauté ground beef and garlic; remove from heat, add Teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, chili paste, hot chili oil and sesame oil; taste for seasoning.  Can be made ahead, cooled, covered and refrigerated.  

When ready to serve reheat the mixture; put drained lettuce leaves on a serving platter; cabbage in a bowl with serving tongs; rice in a bowl and onions in another small bowl.  Allow each person to make their own wrap and adding more hot seasoning according to their taste. Serve with sliced fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. Serves 2. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.


Partially freeze the beef to make slicing thinly easier (to make it really simple, get your butcher to slice for you!) make certain to squeeze out any moisture in the beef before starting this recipe. These are delicious and simple to make

1/2 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon Asian chili sauce (optional or to taste, add in for extra heat, or use dried chili peppers)

7 green onions, finely chopped

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

6 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

2 lbs steaks (cut across the grain into very thin slices, no more than 1/8-inch thick)

2 tablespoons oil

chopped green onion, for sprinkling

1 large lettuce leaf (or use any soft lettuce leaves such as butter lettuce)

cooked white rice

In a bowl stir together soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, green onions, garlic, ginger and 4 tablespoons sesame seeds; mix until the sugar is dissolved. Add in the steak and toss to coat; marinade 20 minutes at room temperature. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat until JUST smoking, then add in the steak slices in one layer, saute the slices turning occasionally until browned and cooked through (this should take about 4 to 5 minutes, you will most likely have to cook the beef in batches, depending on how large your skillet is). Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with green onions and remaining 2 tablespoons sesame seeds. Serve the lettuce leaves on the side and roll the beef in the leaves. Serve with cooked rice. Makes 6 to 8 appetizer servings


8 ounces mock crab meat

1 ripe mango, peeled, pit removed, and diced into bite-size pieces

1/2 cup diced jicama (peel, then dice)

1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

3 green onions, white and part of the green, finely chopped

10 leaves Boston lettuce, washed and dried well (other lettuce can be substituted, but Boston lettuce works particularly well)

Orange Sesame Sauce:

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/3 cup orange-flavored yogurt

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

In a large bowl combine the mock crab, mango, jicama, cilantro, and green onions and toss to blend well. Fill each lettuce leaf with about 1/3 cup (or slightly heaping 1/4 cup) of the mixture. In small bowl, whisk together lime juice, orange yogurt, soy sauce, sesame oil, and pepper until smooth. Drizzle a tablespoon of the citrus sauce over the mixture inside each lettuce leaf and serve. 5 appetizer servings (about 2 wraps each)


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Guess Who
    Jan 21, 2011 @ 15:14:56

    This sound great. But I have those rice paper wrappers sitting in my pantry. I could use some hint about what to do with those.


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