Asian Lettuce Cups

Asian Lettuce Cups

This is the Asian and skinny equivalent of mince on toast. Mince on toast is actually something I have never had. Or maybe I have, but I was drunk and it was late at night and I probably stole it off someone else; so it doesn’t really count.

Make the most of the cheap iceberg lettuce at the moment and make a fresh and healthy dinner before the weather gets too cold.

You can use pork or beef mince for this. Try and get as lean a mince as you can. Since you add a few good sloshes of sesame oil to it, you don’t want it being too greasy which could completely defeat the purpose of this healthy dinner.

Down at Unimart (the Asian supermarket opposite city centre New World) you can pick up a julienne peeler for $5. I highly recommend it. It is how you get the pretty thin strands of carrot. While you are there, stock your flat pantry up with all the vital sauces and condiments you need.

If you want to boost the carb content of this meal (i.e. to keep the Y-chromosomes of the flat happy) cook up a bundle of vermicelli noodles for a couple of minutes in boiling water and serve these as an additional filling.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

For the mince:

  • 500g pork or beef mince

  • 1 onion, diced

  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 1 tsp ground or fresh chilli

  • 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

  • 1 tbsp fish sauce

  • 1 tbsp crushed ginger

  • 2 tbsp kecap manis

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • 1⁄2-1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 spring onions, chopped


  • 1 large iceberg lettuce, washed

  • Roasted salted peanuts, chopped

  • Fresh coriander

  • 2 carrots, julienned, peeled, sliced – however you want it really

  • Handful of shredded red cabbage

  • Sweet chilli sauce to serve

  • 1 lemon or lime, sliced into wedges

  • 1 bundle of vermicelli


  1. Sauté the onion, garlic and the white ends of the spring onions and chilli in the sesame oil until soft. Add the mince and ginger and break it up with a spatula or spoon. Cook until browned. Add in the kecap manis, fish sauce, sweet chilli and lemon juice. Simmer for a further ten minutes until a nice thick sauce develops.

  2. In the mean time, prepare your other fillings. To prepare the lettuce, remove the outer, loose, ugly leaves of lettuce then wash the remaining core thoroughly. You can do this by flipping the lettuce upside down and using a small sharp knife cut out a cone shape around the knobbly stem bit of the lettuce. Place the hole under the tap and let the water wash from the inside out.

  3. Boil the vermicelli for a couple of minutes until soft, then drain.

  4. To serve, take a lettuce leaf, place a spoonful of mince mixture in the centre, place a few carrot threads, a sprinkling of peanuts, cabbage, a few bits of spring onion and as much coriander as you can, as well as a squeeze of lime, then proceed to wrap like a burrito or a spring roll.

This article first appeared in Issue 6, 2014.
Posted 7:01pm Sunday 30th March 2014 by Sophie Edmonds.