Chinese Turkey Lettuce Wraps

by Andie Mitchell on January 21, 2013

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Last Saturday night, I dined out at a local Chinese restaurant, and somehow I’m still–to this very momentthinking of the lettuce wraps I had.

Still thinking about

l e t t u c e, I said. It wouldn’t be quite so remarkable if it weren’t for the facts that a.) it’s iceberg lettuce, and b.) it’s not cake.

Nevertheless, I’m preoccupied.

What made those wraps delicious was their intensity and depth of flavor. With one mouthful, I felt all five of my basic tastes had been satisfied.

They managed to strike a delicate balance between sweet and salty, crunchy and tender, rich and refreshing.

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This afternoon, I experimented with recreating them at home. Hoisin, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, sesame oil, ginger, chili powder…a little of this, a lot of that. And in the end, I was really happy with the finished product. It’s sweet, salty, and zesty, with only a faint kick of spice. The best part is that there’s room for adaptation.

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I hope you try this meal, that you love it, and that you find yourself thinking of it long after it’s over. Then I’ll know I’m not the only one who does such things.

 

*Note for my wonderful, dedicated readers: I promise not to use ground turkey or ground chicken again for at least a month. Three recipes that call for one of them in a week’s time signals to me that I need a break from the ground poultry. 

 

 

Chinese Turkey Lettuce Wraps

makes 4 servings

 

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

¼ cup hoisin sauce, found in the Asian food section of the grocery store

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 pound 93% lean ground turkey breast

2 cups finely chopped button mushrooms

½ teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder

3 cloves garlic, minced

1” knob of fresh gingerroot, finely minced

3 large carrots, grated (about 1 ½ to 2 cups)

6 scallions (green onions), finely chopped (about 1 ½ cups)

1 (8-ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped

1 head iceberg lettuce

 

In a small bowl, whisk sesame oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, and hoisin sauce. Set aside.

Add olive oil to a large skillet or wok set over medium-high heat. Add ground turkey and cook for 5 minutes, using a spatula to crumble the meat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the turkey is no longer pink and the mushrooms have begun to soften. Add salt, chili powder, garlic, and ginger, and stir to combine.

Add the reserved soy sauce mixture to the pan and stir to coat all ingredients. Cook for 3 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken slightly. Add carrots, scallions, and water chestnuts, and give the whole pan one final stir. Remove from heat.

To serve: Divide lettuce leaves among four plates. Spoon a small amount of turkey into each lettuce leaf and fold to eat.

Nutrition Information for 1/4th of Entire Recipe: Calories 335, Total Fat 13 g, Total Carbohydrate 31.6 g, Dietary Fiber 5.6 g, Sugars 13.7 g, Protein 26.8 g

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Ro January 22, 2013 at 12:05 am

I. Love. Lettuce wraps!

Those look so good. I’ve even experimented with tacos served in lettuce cups and it’s super yummy. One thing I really like is using romaine leaves or Boston Bibb lettuce…more flavorful and nutritious than iceberg.

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Mari January 22, 2013 at 12:48 am

So excited to try this out next week! This past weekend I made your pad Thai sans noodles recipe and the banana cupcake recipe and both were a huge hit!! The flavors in the faux pad thai were spot on and it was super filling. No one would ever know the cupcakes were only 250 cals each, they were gone in seconds after being served :-D

I’m curious, I think I see broccoli in the pictures you posted for this dish but I’m not seeing it in the list if ingredients? Are my eyes just playing tricks on me?

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admin January 22, 2013 at 10:37 am

Mari, thanks for trying the recipes! It’s great to know that they turned out well for you!

As far as these lettuce wraps–yep, there’s broccoli in my picture. Good eye! I tried it in my first go around of the experiment, but I guess I felt like it took too long for the broccoli to soften for it to be a worthwhile addition (it threw off the quick cooking time for all other ingredients). So I left it out of the final recipe.

Thanks again for your sweet comment!

Andie

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Cinnamon Vogue January 22, 2013 at 2:10 am

I remember these Chinese lettuce wraps from the 8 years I spent in Hong Kong. Did you know that China is the largest producer of Lettuce in the world, most of it consumed domestically? This is a very nice spin using Turkey Ground Meat. Very creative Andie. Called “ Sung Choy Bao “ in Cantonese, the fun part is each person assembles their own. But my favorite is the “ Peking Duck “ wrap with Lettuce. Oh that is so good. Need to visit my favorite Chinese restaurant this weekend. On the other hand, I think I will make your recipe. I can’t afford Peking Duck and can’t wait that long. I am thinking if I make batch of these I could have it every day for breakfast with a nice cup of tea. Without the Brown Sugar of course. I have enough sugar as it is.

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Diane @ Vintage Zest January 22, 2013 at 2:22 am

These look so yummy! Honestly, I didn’t even notice the frequent use of ground chicken/turkey. Then again, I tend to fall into the same category of overusing poultry. :)

And I feel like I have to speak up for iceberg! For years, I was anti-iceberg with it’s wateriness & lack of nutrition. But then I was reintroduced to a wedge salad, and was reminded of the super crisp texture that only iceberg can give. Yes, it isn’t super nutritious, but having that satisfying crunch negates all need for croutons, wonton crisps, etc.

That’s another reason why this sounds so yummy. I love the crunchiness of waterchestnuts, and can’t wait to carve out a little time for this recipe as well.

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admin January 22, 2013 at 10:40 am

Diane, you are so right about wedge salads redeeming iceberg lettuce. I love them and I’m glad you reminded me. Also, I love iceberg in tacos with ground beef, because no other lettuce is as refreshingly crisp/crunchy as iceberg.

Andie

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Stephanie @cookinfanatic January 22, 2013 at 10:34 am

These look perfect!!! Love lettuce wraps and may have to give these a try at home too!

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Shannon January 22, 2013 at 11:07 am

Yum! I am going to try this recipe asap! I love the ground turkey/chicken recipes! It’s great to find new ways to use it. Thank you! :)

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Cassie @RedLetterDaye January 22, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Have you tried Boston lettuce with these? They’re a little pricier than iceberg (and smaller), but so cute and the texture is great.

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admin January 22, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Yes! Boston lettuce is a great option; I even used it in the pictures above. But thinking about what I’d do differently now, I’d switch back to iceberg next time because I missed that crunch. Also, I didn’t like how soft and almost…slippery(?) the Boston lettuce was with the filling. Totally a personal preference thing, though, so feel free to switch!

Thanks for the suggestion!

Andie

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Michelle January 22, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Hey Andie, i simply love your website and the receipes are just fab, here in Ireland we call those wrap meat sung and i have been looking for an easy receipe for a while now.. so a huge thank you :)

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Caitlin January 22, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Wow those look so good. I love Chinese lettuce wraps at the restaurant, but have never tried them homemade. Definitely going to give this recipe a shot!

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Shawna January 22, 2013 at 3:11 pm

i made something similar to this using tempeh recently– sooo good!

http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/thai-lettuce-wraps/

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Gretchen January 22, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Yes please, no more ground turkey! It’s up to $6.99 per/lb. in my next of the woods, so I can’t even afford to make all of these yummy looking meals!

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Lisa January 22, 2013 at 9:45 pm

Andie, I’ve tried many a lettuce wrap recipe and these by far are the BEST! just enough crunch and tons of flavor, my husband LOVED them and my picky eater daughter ate the mixture over her buttered spaghetti noodles…thanks for sharing!

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Fiorina January 28, 2013 at 3:47 pm

I’m a newcomer to your blog (trying to shed some 20 pounds) and I just made this recipe with the intention of using it for lunches. It’s so good I decided it would be our supper!

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admin January 28, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Oh this makes me happy! Thanks Fiorina!

Andie

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Bethany January 30, 2013 at 9:56 am

I love your recipes because you’re not one of those health bloggers who thinks that fat free/gluten free/whatever-free ingredients are actually good.

I made this last night and both me and my food snob of a boyfriend loved it! Next time I will add a little more heat, like maybe some chili paste. Mmmm. I can’t wait to make it again!

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Julia January 31, 2013 at 2:51 pm

I like finding new ways to use ground turkey & this looks light and healthy. I can’t wait to give it a try.

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J January 31, 2013 at 9:46 pm

A lot of your recipes I want to try have soy sauce, I can’t have soy sauce or even tamari, can you suggest a substitute? Thanks so much. Everything sounds so yummy.

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Alicia February 22, 2013 at 2:18 pm

I made these for dinner last night. This is the 2nd recipe of yours that I have tried and they were amazing! I have been trying to lose weight and it is slowly coming off, but I have been secretly trying some of your recipes on my husband. I am hoping that it will also encourage him to make some changes:) He is in love with them too! So happy to find delicious healthy food. Thank you! You are an inspiration to me:)

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Sarah March 14, 2013 at 9:18 pm

These are amazing! So quick and easy too. I couldn’t stand the idea of the dinner I had planned for tonight, but had to use up the ground turkey. I am so glad I found this recipe and that I now have this meal in my life. Even my 1 year old daughter who refuses to eat meat gobbled this up. Thank you!

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Elizabeth March 31, 2013 at 10:48 pm

These look delish! Cannot wait to try them! Do you have any suggestions for side dishes?

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Andie April 3, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Hey Elizabeth,

Thanks! I usually just do brown rice on the side, but if you want something more flavorful or fun, I’d recommend Soy-Ginger Fried Couscous: http://www.canyoustayfordinner.com/2011/05/25/soy-ginger-fried-couscous/ or Fried Sesame Brown Rice with Edamame: http://www.canyoustayfordinner.com/2012/01/31/fried-sesame-brown-rice-with-edamame/

Andie

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Amber K April 1, 2013 at 4:59 pm

I have been browsing your blog for about a week now (and have been spreading its wonder with my friends and coworkers!)
I have already made a few dishes off of you list and all of them have been amazing!!!!!!!! So tasty and all so different! My boyfriend who is a chef (but eats very unhealthy) has been very happy with all the meals I have made him off of your recipes. Tonight we are having this for dinner, so excited! All the recipes I have tried so far have been so scrumptious!!!!

Keep on posting!!

-Amber

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Heather June 5, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Hey Andie,
I made this for lunch and it was so good that I rolled it over into dinner as well :) For lunch I did the wraps and for dinner I just turned it into a salad (I didn’t add any dressing, just some baby springs). Perfect both ways! Thanks for the recipe!!
Unrelated to this recipe; I remember reading a while ago about a book that you were working on and I was wondering how that’s coming along? Also, I think I read (somewhere) that you live in Seattle? I’m on my way up there in three weeks and am looking for some suggestions on places to check out.
Thanks!
-Heather V.

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Andie Mitchell June 6, 2013 at 7:22 am

Hey Heather!
I’m so glad to hear you liked them!! Thanks for trying the recipe :)
As far as Seattle, gah, I love that city. I moved away from there — to Boston — last year, but I do have recommendations on where I always loved to eat: http://www.canyoustayfordinner.com/2012/09/09/my-favorite-places-to-eat-in-seattle/

Hope you have the best time! Let me know where you end up visiting!

Andie

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jessica June 19, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Ok, I rarely, if ever, comment after I try a recipe bit this time I’m forced to make an exception.

This recipe is worth it’s weight in gold. These are so incredibly delicious….amazing….mouth watering….perfect….restaurant quality (i can go on, but i won’t). If you like asian food you MUST make these…and once you do…well it’s all over. We will be making this recipe once a week until the day I die. I’m pretty sure my fb friends are ready to defriend me over multiple raves about this recipe.

Her recipe is awesome the way it is, I only made a couple slight modifications. Since I’m on weight watchers more food for less points is a plus so i doubled the waterchestnuts and added a can of bean sprouts (both are “free” points wise)…basically so we could eat more for no more points. It comes out to 2.7 points plus per 1/2 cup (which in my experience is two rolls…1/4 cup each) if you use 93% lean ground turkey (so it could be evenless points! I just didn’t want to pay more for the 99%lean lol).

I digress…..this recipe is AWESOME and healthy to boot. Make it. Now.

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Molly S. July 10, 2013 at 1:40 am

Just made these tonight, and they were awesomesauce! Only change I made was omitting the chili powder and putting a couple squirts of sriracha directly in the sauce instead. The boyfriend and I are both on WW (6 pounds from goal for me!), and these totally fit the bill. Thanks!

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Robin July 11, 2013 at 7:24 pm

This was absolutely delicious! I made it tonight for dinner.

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Emily July 12, 2013 at 10:07 am

I made these Chinese lettuce wraps (loved them!) and was so inspired that I made taco lettuce wraps the next night!! :D

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Lizzie July 22, 2013 at 11:48 pm

I made these last night for the first time and LOVED them!! My boyfriend – who is reluctant to try anything lettuce-wrapped or new – liked them so much he took the leftovers to work for lunch and then requested them again tonight. We both agree that they are far better than similar lettuce wraps at one of our favorite restaurants. Overall a fantastic recipe! Tonight I served them with a side of low-calorie veggie fried rice, and it complemented them nicely. Thank you!!

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Elva Poole August 31, 2013 at 6:43 pm

How much sodium is in them?

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Kerry September 15, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Another fantastic recipe, Andie! Reminded me of the PF Chang’s soothing lettuce wraps. I used ground chicken and added a handful of broccoli slaw in with the carrots and water chestnuts for some extra vegetables. Delicious!

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Anna October 30, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Just made these and they were a hit with my husband and me! I just discovered your blog and will be cooking your tuna burgers tomorrow night. My husband is skeptical of them but your turkey wraps definitely left a good taste in our mouths!

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