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Spicy Pork Lettuce Wraps

December 1, 2010

Lettuce Wraps should be the new sandwich. Especially during these colder months. I mean…I’m guilty of eating heavier food during this season and I think most everyone does, given Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays where the whole family is over and we just constantly eat.

This recipe, which is really versatile, is satisfying, refreshing, and extremely tasty. Since I get an inordinate amount of greens from my CSA, I had to figure out a way to use them all. Lettuce wraps have now become my go-to lunch over sandwiches. And let me tell you, I couldn’t be happier. My farmers at Bells Bend have some great crunchy lettuce, like buttercrunch (which is similar to a Bibb/Boston lettuce) and romaine. These are perfect lettuces for wrapping around a filling of sizzingly meat, crunchy vegetables, and a spicy sauce.

I got some great spicy peppers from Mr. Tim Hammond, the father of my good friend, Max. He has been an avid reader of the blog and gave me a bag full of jalapeño, serrano, and habanero peppers to mess around with. I’ve been putting them in everything from these lettuce wraps, to soups, to simply sauteed greens. Thanks, Mr. Hammond – you’re the man!

In terms of the meat selection, you could use anything. I like pork, so that’s what I made. You could use chicken, beef, lamb, or shrimp and they would all be great. If you want to make this vegetarian, simply use tofu or mushrooms. In addition, you can use leftover meat from a roast, like this pork roast, or even turkey if you have some left from last week.

Spicy Pork Lettuce Wraps (serves 2-4)

(Recipe courtesy of Vivek Surti)

1 pound of boneless pork loin, cut into cubes

1 head of buttercrunch lettuce (or romaine, iceberg, etc.)


1/4 cup soy sauce

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 inch knob of ginger, grated

1 jalapeno pepper, chopped

2 tablespoons of honey

1 lime, juiced

2 tablespoons sriracha hot sauce (optional)


1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced

1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, thinly sliced (seeds and all)

few sprigs of cilantro

few sprigs of mint

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


Get a 10 inch pan over medium high heat and add a little bit of canola oil. Season the pork cubes with salt and pepper and sear in the pan, very quickly for 1 or two minutes. Remove the pork from the pan and let rest in a plate.

To make the sauce, add the garlic, ginger, and jalapeño and cook until soft. Add the soy sauce, lime juice, honey, and sriracha. Bring the sauce to a boil and cook until it is thick and syrupy. (If the sauce is not getting thick, mix together 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of water and add it, it’ll thicken up nicely). Return the pork to the pan and let the pork cook through all the way and absorb the sauce.

To assemble, lay out a few leaves of lettuce. Put a little bit of the pork mixture in the lettuce, and top with thinly sliced onions, peppers, cilantro, and mint. Roll it up, fold it up and enjoy!






9 Comments leave one →
  1. December 1, 2010 7:54 AM

    I like Vivek’s suggestion to use this lettuce wraps while making a sandwich. Ever since Vivek started making pork based recipe, I have fallen in love with this meat. I highly recommend that you try this recipe. Also if you are vegetarian, I recommend that you mix your dal (lentils)-chaval (rice)-vegetables and wrap them with this lettuce. It is a great way to enjoy your lower calorie sandwich.

  2. December 1, 2010 10:33 AM

    Yum! I’m not a big fan of sandwiches anyway, as bread always just makes me feel weighed down. Much prefer things like lettuce wraps and salads with lots of interesting flavors. I’ll definitely try this out!

  3. December 2, 2010 8:30 AM

    yum! i love lettuce wraps!

    (but don’t get me wrong…me and bread go way back)

  4. December 2, 2010 5:49 PM

    Hi V do you know where I can buy some kochujang red spicy paste? You have inspired me, I want to make spicy pork, chicken, beef, whatever I can!

  5. December 2, 2010 10:04 PM

    YUM looks so good! Can you cook for me?

  6. December 10, 2010 8:42 PM

    Hey Vivek, after seeing this blog post, I totally had a yen for spicy pork!! So, I went to the Korean grocery store next to Manna’s restaurant and got a tub of gochujang. I diced up West Wind pork, and sauteed onion, mushrooms, broccoli, onion, garlic and pork together. Then I added a mixture of gochujang, honey, and toasted seasame oil. I served it over rice, with a side of quick pickles which were just mini cukes sliced and put in the fridge with white vinegar, garlic, salt, and Chinese chili paste. I forgot to take a photo, we ate it so fast.

  7. Victoria permalink
    April 9, 2011 1:00 PM

    Looks delish! Could I make these with chicken instead of pork? Would it have the same flavor?


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