Quick to make, fun to eat: Chinese lettuce wraps


Here's a meal that works for a household full of folks on different schedules. Stir-fry the ginger-and-garlic-flavored mushrooms and ground pork whenever you've got a quorum for dinner. It has a minimal amount of heat from small red chiles and a bit of piquancy from the combination of Chinese rice cooking wine and soy sauce. (Portions for young or timid eaters can be done without the chiles, of course.) The mixture goes into crisp leaves of small-head lettuce and gets a last-minute helping of crunchy scallions; spoon in what the appetite demands.

Similar dishes at Chinese-style restaurants often goop up the mixture or make it too sweet; this one's got a nice savory balance.

The rest can be reheated in minutes, either on the stove top or in the microwave, for subsequent dinners or lunch the next day.

- - -

Pork and Mushroom San Choy Bau

4 servings

Pork is the ground meat of choice here, because we like its fat content for flavor (typically 20 to 25 percent). We tested this with ground dark-meat turkey and the mixture was a bit drier.

This is the kind of dish that comes together quickly, so that's why we're doing all the prep upfront.

Serve with steamed rice.

Adapted from "Harvest: 180 Recipes Through the Seasons," by Emilie Guelpa (Hardie Grant, 2017).

Ingredients

1 1/2-inch piece ginger root

2 cloves garlic

1 or 2 small red "finger" chiles or bird's-eye chiles

3 1/2 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms

3 1/2 ounces fresh oyster mushrooms

4 scallions

2 tablespoons safflower oil

1 pound lean ground pork (see headnote)

2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine

Low-sodium soy sauce or dark soy sauce

2 heads gem lettuce, "artisan" small-head lettuce or 1 small head iceberg lettuce

Steps

Peel the ginger, then mince it. Crush the garlic cloves. Stem and seed the chiles (to taste), then mince them.

Stem the shiitakes; coarsely chop all the mushrooms or cut them into very thin slices. Cut the white and light-green parts of the scallions on the diagonal into thin slices.

Heat half the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the ginger, garlic and chiles. Stir-fry for 20 to 30 seconds. Add the remaining oil and the mushrooms. Stir-fry for about 3 minutes, or until they have released their moisture, then discard the garlic. Add the ground pork; stir-fry for 3 to 5 minutes, breaking up any large clumps, until it loses its raw look.

Add the Chinese rice wine and season with the soy sauce (to taste); reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. The meat should be cooked through.

Meanwhile, separate the lettuce leaves, rinse, pat dry and place on a platter.

Transfer the pork mixture to a serving bowl. Sprinkle the scallions on top and serve right away, with the lettuce leaves.

Nutrition | Per serving (using 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce): 250 calories, 27 g protein, 12 g carbohydrates, 12 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 65 mg cholesterol, 290 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 5 g sugar


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Food

At Kitchen, ‘grab and go’ meets gourmet
At Kitchen, ‘grab and go’ meets gourmet

Kitchen, Chef Matthew Byrne’s slice of comfort-food paradise on the Dixie Dining Corridor, has revved into season with a new, delicious daytime feature: a new “grab and go” lunch menu at the adjacent space he calls Prep Kitchen. This is the special-events space Byrne and his wife/partner Aliza Byrne opened last season in the former...
Best guide: local foodie events to love
Best guide: local foodie events to love

It’s no coincidence that the local growing season ushers in a sparkling series of foodie events, dinners, festivals and tastings. In a county where the concept of “farm-fresh” is treasured and celebrated, local harvests give us new reasons to experiment with ingredients, cook and feast. Here’s a mini-guide to some of the county&rsquo...
Sending relief by air and sea to Puerto Rico from the Bronx
Sending relief by air and sea to Puerto Rico from the Bronx

The pleas for help, arriving in text messages and on Facebook, have not relented, filling Lymaris Albors’ phone since the hurricane that roared across Puerto Rico, her homeland. The people on the other end were asking for all sorts of things: food, generators, solar lights, tarpaulins to take the place of roofs shredded by the hurricane. As she...
Roasted garlic lends depth of flavor to a simple soup
Roasted garlic lends depth of flavor to a simple soup

Does everyone know about the glorious versatility of roasted garlic? I hope so. But just in case you don't, the next time you've got your oven going for at least the better part of an hour, roast some and you'll see. Just take a whole head of garlic, cut it in half horizontally, so you get through all the cloves, drizzle each half with olive oil, wrap...
One man’s meatloaf is another man’s poison
One man’s meatloaf is another man’s poison

I thought I made it clear. I don’t like meatloaf. In my very first column for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch nearly four years ago, I wrote that I will try almost anything “except meatloaf. That is the one food I will not eat.”  As it turns out, I am not alone in this perfectly understandable and even admirable trait. Our esteemed...
More Stories