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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Webb City Farmers Market: Asian Inspired Lettuce Wraps

I mean, his name IS FLAVOR, right?

I love a good wrap... you know, some N.W.A... maybe some Eazy E... Public Enemy... old school RUN-DMC... Beastie Boys... Oh, wait... I said Wrap, didn't I? Hmph.

When planning for my February demonstration at the Webb City Farmers Market, I inquired about what Market Master Eileen Nichols would be expecting on the vendor tables. When she mentioned a large haul of hydroponic butter and bibb lettuces coming in from Braker Farms and 417 Produce, my mind went to some kind of wrap. Don't get me wrong; I do love those lettuces in a delicious, fresh salad, but I really wanted to frame them in a different light. And to be honest, I have been looking for a demo dish that would allow me to do some sautéing right at my table with strong aromas of garlic... onions... well, you get the idea.

I decided to make an Asian inspired filling for the wraps. I could have gone with ground pork or chicken, and I decided on pork. The usual suspects followed: garlic, ginger, scallions. I also bulked up the filling with some cabbage and carrots. And for good measure, and a nice crunch, a touch of water chestnuts.

The sauce consists of some common flavors, as well, by including soy sauce and Hoisin sauce. A little acidic kick is provided by rice vinegar, and finished with sesame oil. I prefer a thicker sauce, so I added a touch of cornstarch to tighten it up. If you desire, you can add more kick to the filling. Use a spicy chili paste, or even a dose of Siracha. 

Definitely take liberties with this recipe. As I always say, a recipe is just a guide. Well, unless it's a baking recipe, but we'll talk more about that at a later date. You could forego making your sauce, and purchase any number of sauces from the Asian section of your local market. Often, a Thai peanut sauce is used in wraps such as these. As previously stated, you could use ground pork, ground chicken or turkey, or even minced mushrooms. 

Above all else, have fun with them! Lettuce wraps are an easy and entertaining party food. Try them at your next gathering. 

Asian Inspired Lettuce Wraps

1-2 Tblsp oil (Canola or vegetable oil is best)
1 lb ground pork
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tblsp ginger, minced
3 scallions, finely chopped or thinly sliced
1/2 C cabbage, shredded
1/4 C carrots, shredded or grated
4 oz water chestnuts, finely chopped or minced
2 Tblsp soy sauce
3 Tblsp Hoisin sauce
2 Tblsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp cornstarch (optional)
1 head Bibb or butter lettuce, leaves separated

1.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the garlic, ginger, and scallions 
     briefly before adding the pork, and cooking until done. Crumble the meat as you stir. 

2.  As the meat is finishing up, add the cabbage and carrots and continue to cook until 
     cabbage is cooked down. Add the water chestnuts. 

3.  Add the soy sauce, Hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Continue to cook and stir 
     for a few minutes. If a thicker sauce is desired, add the optional cornstarch with the sauces 
     and cook until thickened.

4.  Serve the filling on the separated leaves and fold or roll as you eat. 

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