I look at food similar to the way Carrie Bradshaw looks at her shoes — with lust and a can't-live-without-it kind of attitude. (Although I won't lie, I look at shoes the same way she does as well.) I also have the same reaction she does when figuring how much of my income actually goes towards dinners out, grocery stores and fancy food shops — it's quite astonishing when that yearly credit card statement rolls around. But I wouldn't change it for anything, it's who I am.
I'll gladly fork over $40 for a trio of smelly cheeses. I don't even blink when spending $12 on a package of imported rigatoni. And I sure as heck don't even think twice about splurging on an ungodly priced lunch of lobster spaghetti if a local cabbie tells me to do so. (Note, if you're ever in Santorini, this is a MUST.)
But as it goes with most things in life, it's all about balance. Since I spend such a big bulk of my money on things that I love, I try to cut back on other things in life that aren't necessary, and try my best to come up with a couple meals a week that won't send my bank account into a tailspin.
These banh mi lettuce wraps satisfy both my need for ridiculously delicious food and the need to not spend a million dollars on every single meal that comes out of my kitchen.
I quickly fell in love with the flavor profile of a banh mi a few years ago, and since then renditions on it have become somewhat repetitive in my household. The bulk of the ingredients are typically something I have on hand, and the remaining ingredients are pretty cheap to pick up on a whim, making this a meal that's not only inexpensive, but super quick and easy to prepare.
I basically stole the recipe from this banh mi pizza I fell in love with a few months ago (if you're not on a diet, try it NOW), removed the cheese and swapped out a carb-filled pizza crust base for a more figure-friendly vessel of lettuce.
Like the pizza, there are three different components to the lettuce wraps; first, the saucy pork filling; second, the pickled veggies; and third, the spicy sauce.
For the pork filling, I browned up a pound of ground pork in a little bit of sesame and olive oil until it was super crispy, then covered it in soy sauce, fish sauce, a little bit of brown sugar and sriracha. This alone warrants a serious lust-factor and has single-handedly turned me into a pork aficionado, well actually, bacon did that, but this took the love affair with pork to a whole other level. My goodness, so good.
The pickled veggies couldn't be simpler, shredded carrots, radishes and cucumber are tossed in a little bit of sugar, rice vinegar and left to marinate while the pork is cooked and the sauce is made up. Simple. Easy. Done.
The spicy sauce is low-fat mayo (I never use the full-fat stuff), rice vinegar, sriracha, sesame oil and a little bit of salt, also super simple. It kind of reminds me of the spicy mayo you find on top of sushi rolls or served with spring rolls, but would also be so good on an Asian-style burger or drizzled over fish tacos.
For assembly you tuck a little bit of the pork filling into giant leafs of lettuce (I like to use a Boston or butter lettuce, but cabbage or iceberg would also work.), top with the pickled veggies, a little bit of the leftover vinegar and then drizzle it all with the spicy mayo.
This batch makes about six lettuce wraps which in our house only serves two people for a meal, but I also piled the pork filling in pretty liberally. If you cut back on the pork filling, this would easily stretch out to make eight wraps.
Another note, this is also great to make ahead of time. I actually prepped everything yesterday, and it's what we're having for dinner tonight — do you know how hard it was for me to not eat it after taking these photographs?? Almost impossible.
- For the pickled veggies:
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 3/4 cup julienned radishes
- 3/4 cup julienned cucumber
- 6 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- For the spicy mayo:
- 1/2 cup low-fat mayo
- 1 1/4 teaspoons sriracha
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame
- 1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
- For the pork filling:
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 pound ground pork
- 4 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon sriracha
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 6 pieces Boston lettuce
- Pickle the veggies: In a bowl, combine carrots, radishes, cucumber, rice vinegar, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Let set while you make the remaining components.
- Make the spicy mayo: Combine all ingredients.
- Make the pork filling: Heat a large nonstick skillet to a medium-high heat. Add sesame oil and olive oil. Add pork. Break pork up with a wooden spoon and then cook until browned, about 7-8 minutes. Once the pork is browned, add the soy sauce, fish sauce, sriracha, and brown sugar. Toss together and cook another 1-2 minutes.
- Assemble the lettuce wraps: Fill each lettuce wrap with pork, top with pickled veggies, and drizzle with the spicy mayo. Serve immediately.
- Meats, Appetizers
- North American
- 6 lettuce wraps
- Total Time
- 35 minutes