Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pork and Green Bean Lettuce Wraps

This Sunday is not only Valentine's Day; it's also the first day of the lunar new year. Although I'm Caucasian, born in Sacramento, with Irish blood and Scotch whiskey coursing through my veins, I celebrate Lunar New Year as much as I celebrate Thanksgiving. For the last eight years my wife and I have been hosting the traditional family dinner at our house. This came about in part because my wife's cousins left Indonesia after the riots there in 1998. The riots, in which the military reportedly played a role, targeted Chinese, with mobs attacking Chinese neighborhoods and businesses. My wife's cousins were in Jakarta during the rioting and spent several harrowing days and nights fleeing and hiding from mobs. They were finally granted asylum here in 2002. They will have their citizenship interview this month.

Although I had hoped to put together more posts before the dinner with recipes for some of the dishes that will be served, I just haven't found the time. I should have planned this several months ago, but so it goes. I'll try to get a post or two in before the dinner, with others to follow. Kim and Hong at Ravenous Couple and Bee at Rasa Malaysia whose sites you are doubtless aware of, have had the foresight to preview some of the dishes they will be serving for the New Year's Dinner. Check them out for some interesting ideas.

Pork and Green Bean Lettuce Wraps
Adapted from Every Grain of Rice; Blonder and Low
A printable version is available here.

1 head iceberg lettuce
1 lb boneless pork shoulder, minced
1 tsp cornstarch
pinch of sugar
2 tsp light soy sauce
1 TBS shaoxing wine
1/2 lb green beans, or long beans
1 TBS peanut oil
1 medium Asian pear, peeled and diced
2 TBS oyster sauce
1/3 to 1/2 cup hoisin sauce

Refresh the lettuce in ice water for a few minutes. Separate and dry the leaves. keep the leaves chilled until ready to serve.

Marinate the pork with the cornstarch, sugar, soy sauce, and rice wine from 30 minutes up to 2 hours.

Par boil the beans in boiling water for about 2 minutes. Drain and shock in an ice bath. Drain. Cut into 1/4 inch pieces.

Heat a wok over medium-high heat. Add the oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the pork and stir-fry, breaking up the pork with a spatula. Cook until the meat is no longer pink.

Add the green beans and stir fry for 2 minutes. Stir in the diced pear and the oyster sauce and cook 30 seconds more, coating meat, pear and beans thoroughly with the sauce. Remove the mixture to a serving plate.

To serve, each diner places a teaspoon or so of hoisin sauce on a lettuce leaf, adds the meat mixture, then wraps the lettuce around the meat and eats.

Nb. The original recipe calls for long beans and water chestnuts. If you can get fresh water chestnuts, they are wonderful--crisp and sweet. Canned water chestnuts have a decent crunch, but their flavor is totally different, tinny and starchy.


  1. lettuce wraps are so fun to eat..this looks great! Thanks for the compliments...chuc mung nam moi and congrats for the chance of citizenship!!

  2. Hong and Kim,

    Chuc mung nam moi! Selamat Tahun Baru Imlek! I think anything that involves wrapping is a fun dinner food, helps keep the atmosphere relaxed. I hope you have a wonderful year ahead.


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