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Beautiful summer days are just around the corner, and as much as I love soups and stews. I naturally shy away from them as the weather gets warmer. The farmers market starts bursting with fresh green produce, so our fridge is overflowing with greens and herbs! I am always looking for ways to add them into my meals, be it a salad, hot dish or something in between. Thai cuisine utilizes tons of fresh herbs so I often gravitate to those flavors as summer approaches. I still remember the first time I ate authentic Thai food, the flavors completely blew my mind. I couldn’t believe that I spent 26 years of my life never tasting this phenomenal cuisine!
This pork lettuce recipe is a take on the classic “larb moo” which is a cold ground pork salad (and if you don’t like/eat pork, you can use ground chicken or beef, too). Start by cooking the ground pork in a saucepan, remove from heat and add in chopped herbs, chilies, shallots. The sauce has lime juice, fish sauce, Aleppo chili powder, brown sugar, making it the ideal combo of salty, sweet, sour, spicy and savory. The secret ingredient? Toasted rice! While toasting and grinding rice may take a little extra time to prepare, it really adds that nice nuttiness and crunch to round out the dish. Typically served on its own or with a papaya salad, I am opting for little gem lettuce cups, because they are so crunchy and fresh, plus bonus points for being an amazing gluten-free option.
Whether you are entertaining or meal-prepping, these flavor-packed Spicy Pork Lettuce Cups are a crowd pleaser, hitting all the notes. You need to make them ASAP!
Recipe and Headnote Rachel Gurjar
- 1 1/ 2 pounds ground pork
- 2 tablespoons uncooked rice
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 3 limes, juiced, plus wedges for serving
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper
- 2 shallots, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
- 3 scallions, chopped
- 1/ 2 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped, plus more leaves for garnish
- 1/ 2 cup coarsely chopped mint
- 1/ 2 cup coarsley chopped thai basil
- 1 green chili, sliced, plus more for garnish
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 heads little gem lettuce, cleaned and leaves separated
- Sesame seeds, for garnish
In a skillet on low heat, add uncooked rice and toast until light golden brown, about 7 minutes. Once cool, coarsely grind using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.
In the same skillet on medium heat, add ground pork and break it up into small chunks with a fork. Cook until all the liquid has evaporated and the pork is light brown and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
Make the dressing: in a separate bowl, add fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice, salt and Aleppo and mix until sugar dissolves.
To the bowl of cooked ground pork, add dressing, shallots, scallions, cilantro, mint, Thai basil, green chilies and toasted rice. Mix to incorporate, then adjust seasoning with salt and Aleppo if desired.
To serve, fill 2 heaping tablespoons into lettuce leaves and arrange on a platter. Garnish with lime wedges, sesame seeds, chilies and cilantro.