Spicy Asian Lettuce Cups

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Try this spicy Asian lettuce cups recipe made with your choice of meat. You can watch Sue prepare the dish in this clip from Lakeland Cooks!



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or about 3 teaspoons
  • 1 (8-ounce) can water chestnuts, rinsed, drained and chopped
  • 1 pound ground meat (pork, turkey, bison or beef)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup catsup
  • 4 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, washed and chilled
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped cocktail peanuts


  1. In a medium bowl, mix soy sauce, catsup, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and brown sugar. Set aside.
  2. Separate lettuce leaves from head and tear into 3- to 4-inch cups.  Cut odd shapes with a round cookie or biscuit cutter.
  3. Place lettuce cups in plastic bag and chill until serving time.
  4. Heat oil in large frying pan over medium heat.
  5. Add onion and sauté until it softens, about 4 minutes.
  6. Add ground meat, garlic and water chestnuts. Sauté until meat is cooked through. Drain any grease.
  7. Add soy sauce-catsup mixture to pan.
  8. Cook until mixture has the consistency of thick sloppy joes. Remove from heat.
  9. At serving time, reheat meat mixture if necessary.
  10. Place lettuce cups on serving tray and fill each one with meat mixture. Garnish with chopped green onions and chopped peanuts.


You can often find rice wine vinegar and sesame oil in the Asian food section of the grocery store.

Your guests will love putting these together themselves. Set out the lettuce cups and the bowl of meat mixture with green onions and peanuts on the side. They can assemble their own lettuce cups.

Be sure to refrigerate sesame oil after opening it to prevent it from getting rancid.

The filling can be refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 3 days.  Reheat at serving time.

The lettuce cups can be prepared up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated with a damp paper.

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