Thursday, January 21, 2010
Mmmm. Lettuce wraps. If they're on the menu, you can bet that's what I'm ordering. It's been too long since I last filled a lettuce cup with savory toppings and sweet/spicy sauces and curled them in my hand before that first mouth-watering bite. I've missed them. Since I've never made my own lettuce wraps, I did a little research. I found some good general information about lettuce wraps on bellybytes.com, "A One-Stop Nutrition Resource". Here are 5 quick tips from Belly Bytes:
1.Pick large, pliable lettuce leaves
2.Dry lettuce before serving
3.Vary textures, color and flavors in filling
4.Make fillings and sauces ahead
5.Leave assembly to the diners
For more details and additional lettuce wrap recipes click HERE.
I decided to make mine with steak...because that's what I have in my freezer. When I thought about the steak, I started thinking about my favorite Beef on a Stick recipe. Then it hit me, why not marinate the meat for lettuce wraps in the Beef on a Stick marinade? Two of my favorite meals in one. So, that's what I did. I cut the steak into bite sized pieces and tossed it into the marinade. You can marinate overnight or all day...but give it a good soak.
With the steak marinating, I got some of the prep work out of the way. I soaked the lettuce (I used Boston, for it's perfectly bowl-sized, pliable leaves) in ice water for a bit. Then I pulled off the leaves and let them dry on a towel. After thoroughly drying, I bagged them and put them back into the fridge to keep em' crisp.
Next I made the sauces. This one is P.F. Chang's "Special Sauce" from a recipe that I found on recipezaar.com.
I decided to make my own special sauce too. I got out the wasabi...
and I squeezed some into about 1/2 cup of sour cream. I completely apologize for this picture. That wasabi looks a bit like something that you can purchase in a novelty shop next to the whoopie cushions. Lovely. Totally un-intentional. : )
So, stir in the wasabi. Add a little garlic powder if you like. You might want to taste it and add more wasabi. Start with a little and then add according to your taste. I find that with wasabi, a little goes a long way. I wish that I had known that years ago, when I was trying sushi for the first time. I slapped a big ol' chunk of the green stuff on my spicy tuna roll and popped it into my mouth. I had no idea what wasabi was supposed to taste like. I just figured that if the chef had included a condiment on the plate, I should use it to enhance the dish. Big mistake. I thought that my nose was going to explode! Oh the pain! Tears ran down my reddened face. As I wiped them away, I looked up to see my dad across the table, laughing at me. Gee, thanks for telling me, Dad! Glad I could provide a little amusement in your evening. NOT!
Over the years, and probably as a result of my sushi habit, I've built up a tolerance to the green stuff. But when I'm adding it to a recipe, I still use with caution.
With the marinating beef, cleaned lettuce cups, and prepared sauces all in the refrigerator ahead of time, this meal comes together pretty quickly when it's time for dinner.
You still have to do a little chopping. I enlisted The Pampered Chef Food Chopper. It was perfect for this recipe because you want the veggies diced relatively small. This step went quickly with the chopper. First I chopped up a can of water chestnuts.
Then I chopped some mushrooms, enough to make about a cup.
And then I chopped 1/4 to 1/2 cup of onion.
To cook the steak, heat a skillet with up to a tablespoon of oil. I used a slotted spoon to add the beef to the skillet so that some of the marinade dripped off. The beef makes it's own juices as it cooks. Stir fry for 3-5 minutes over medium high to high heat. I like mine just a tiny bit pink in the center. If it's over-cooked it gets a little rubbery.
Now remove the beef and cooking juices from the skillet. I'm really not sure why I poured the cooking juices into a measuring cup. Sometimes logic eludes me.
Add a little oil back into the skillet, heat it up and add the chopped veggies. Stir fry for a few minutes until the onion gets tender.
Next, I poured the cooking juice back in. See, I added on a whole other step with my illogical separation of juice and steak. I stirred the beef back in right after this, but I forgot to take a picture of that. Geesh! I must be a little "off" today. Maybe I was just really hungry for lettuce wraps and not thinking clearly.
Once the filling is cooked, you're ready to set up your lettuce wrap assembly station with lettuce leaves, the steak filling, special sauce, and wasabi sauce. I also added grated carrots for color and texture. They worked really well with the other flavors and added a little more nutritional value to our dinner.
This is what I'm talkin' about, baby! That first bite...the lettuce wrap curled in my hand. I love it!
Krista's Steak Lettuce Wraps
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon brown Sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 boneless beef top sirloin steak (1-1/2 pounds), cut into bite-sized pieces.
In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the first eight ingredients; add beef.
Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
1 can sliced water chestnuts, minced to pea-size
1 cup mushrooms, minced to pea-size
1/4-1/2 onion, diced
Bring oil to high heat in a wok or large frying pan. Stir fry steak for for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove beef and cooking juices from the skillet and keep warm. Add a little more oil to the pan, keep hot. Add water chestnuts, mushrooms, and onions.Stir fry until onions are tender. Add the meat and cooking juice back to the skillet. Stir fry an additional 1-2 minutes. Cover and keep warm while you assemble the lettuce wrap serving tray.
Lettuce Wrap Tray:
1 head Boston lettuce (or lettuce of your choice)
Soak lettuce in ice water for up to an hour. Remove leaves. Dry completely. Bag and refrigerate until serving time.
2-3 carrots, peeled and grated
P.F. Chang's Special Sauce from Recipezaar.com
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
1-2 teaspoon garlic and red chile paste
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 and chile paste. Mix well and refrigerate this sauce until you're ready to serve. *I omitted one tablespoon of hot mustard from this recipe.
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon (give or take) prepared wasabi
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Stir ingredients together. Refrigerate until serving.
Once the serving plate is assembled, add filling mixture to the plate and enjoy!
To download or print this recipe click here!