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Cutting carbs? ‘Lettuce’ tempt you with this Asian burrito alternative

Recipe: Lettuce wraps with spicy pork or chicken filling

Lettuce wraps
Spiced chicken or pork makes a delicious filling
for lettuce wraps. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

Lettuce wraps have been part of Chinese cuisine for centuries. Think of a lettuce wrap as a burrito with a leaf instead of a tortilla. They’re fun food that’s also low in carbohydrates.

Any large-leaf lettuce will do, although you may need to double-layer leaves for a better wrap. Iceberg, Boston bibb lettuce and romaine are common wrappers because their leaves are naturally sturdy.

For this recipe, I used home-grown Red Sails loose leaf lettuce. It was as delicious as it was pretty (but extra napkins came in handy).

Meat and veggies cook quickly in a wok.
Lettuce wraps with spicy pork or chicken filling

Makes 4 appetizer servings or 2 main dish servings


2 tablespoons oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1/3 cup onion, diced

1/3 cup celery, diced

2/3 cup mushrooms, diced

½ cup carrots, grated

1 cup cooked pork or chicken, diced

2 tablespoons dry white wine

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder*

½ to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Lettuce leaves

Hoisin sauce

Homegrown Red Sails lettuce makes a colorful and delicious


In a wok or large heavy skillet, heat oil. Add garlic and saute until slightly golden, stirring often. Add onion and celery; stir fry until vegetables start to turn soft, about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms; stir fry until mushrooms soften and start to release their juices, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add carrots, stir fry to blend; about 1 minute.

Add chopped cooked pork or chicken, stirring to blend. Add wine; stir and let simmer, about 2 minutes.

Blend soy sauce with cornstarch, sugar, ginger and five-spice powder. Stir this soy-cornstarch mix into liquid in the pan. Add red pepper flakes to taste. Stir fry until sauce become translucent and coats meat and vegetables, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer to bowl and keep warm.

To serve: Gently separate lettuce into large leaves. Smear about 1 teaspoon of hoisin sauce on inside of leaf. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling on top and roll leaf around filling like a burrito, folding one end to seal the filling inside. Eat immediately, with plenty of napkins.

*Chinese five-spice powder is a traditional blend of cinnamon, star anise, cloves, ginger and pepper; use sparingly.


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A recipe for preparing delicious meals from the bounty of the garden.

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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Oct. 2

Plan to make the most of the mild weather in your garden.

* October is the best month to plant trees and shrubs.

* October also is the best time to plant perennials in our area. Add a little well-aged compost and bone meal to planting holes or beds, but hold off on other fertilizers until spring. Keep the transplants well-watered (but not wet) for the first month as they become settled.

* Now is the time to plant seeds for many flowers directly into the garden, including cornflower, nasturtium, nigella, poppy, portulaca, sweet pea and stock.

* Plant seeds for radishes, bok choy, mustard, spinach and peas.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Set out cool-weather bedding plants, including calendula, pansy, snapdragon, primrose and viola.

* Reseed and feed the lawn. Work on bare spots.

* Dig up corms and tubers of gladioluses, dahlias and tuberous begonias after the foliage dies. Clean and store in a cool, dry place.

* Treat azaleas, gardenias and camellias with chelated iron if leaves are yellowing between the veins.

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