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Vietnamese-style pork lettuce wraps

Lettuce wraps have become so popular around the worl and have been adapted to almost any culture. What I love about them is the delicious filling that is wrapped in crunchy lettuce, rather than the carbohydrate heavy tortilla, pita or other breads. They are the perfect blend of flavor and health for those of us who would like to eat healthy.

Although I have used pork here, you can easily substitute ground chicken or lamb, and tofu for a vegetarian version of this dish. The wraps will still turn out just as delicious, but with flavors of the individual meats.

These wraps are super simple to make and super good. The meat is pan sautéed with tons of Vietnamese flavors, lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaf, Thai chilies and lots of ginger. It is spicy and flavorful. The wraps also have soft noodles and grated carrot, all wrapped together with the spicy sauce. I do like Vietnamese Nước Chấm sauce, but some folks may find it too pungent and fishy. You can substitute this Indonesian sweet-and-sour dipping sauce for any party. Although the recipe and ingredients look long, this is quite a simple recipe to make.

instead. Most of all I like how this wrap, or any wrap, brightens up the table. Folks have fun making their own wraps, adjusting the flavors and spice to their palates, and it livens up the evening. This is one of those fun and fool-proof dishes

This is a fabulous cookbook from a wonderful chef from some of Napa Valleys most renowned restaurants. Cindy's recipes are extraordinary. she brings unique flavors from around the world to your table in her cookbooks. I do have most of her cookbooks, and I love to cook from them.

For more recipes from this fabulous cookbook, click here.


For the marinade:

2 tablespoons oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

2-3 red chilies, or red Thai bird's eye chilies, Minced

1 kaffir lime leaf

1 6-inch stem lemongrass, halved

1 tablespoon ginger

1 tablespoon sugar

Salt, to taste

A few drops fish sauce

1 lb ground pork, chicken or lamb

For the dipping sauce:

1 tablespoon sugar

3 tablespoons lime juice

1/4 cup fish sauce

2-3 Thai bird's eye chilies, minced

3 scallions, minced

To complete the dish:

3 oz. dried rice noodles, cooked as per directions on packet

Mint leaves

Scallions, thinly sliced

Basil leaves

Butter lettuce cups

Grated carrots

Make the dipping sauce by mixing all the ingredients together. Set aside. If you do not like this very "fishy" sauce, You can substitute this Indonesian sweet-and-sour dipping sauce instead.

To make the pork, heat the oil. Add the garlic and chilies and sauté for 1 minute till The garlic is cooked and no longer smells raw. Add the pork, lemongrass, ginger, sugar, salt, fish sauce and Kaffir lime and continue to cook for 10 minutes on a medium flame till the meat is cooked and crisp. Taste and adjust spice and salt.

Meanwhile cook the thin vermicelli noodles as per directions on the packet. Drain and set aside.

To serve, heat up the meat, making sure not to dry it out, if it does add a few tablespoons water. Serve in a bowl. accompanied by the noodles, dipping sauce and all the other garnishes. Your guests can assemble their own wraps on the table.

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