One of the things I appreciate about culinary arts is that no matter how much you think know, there's always more to learn. I'm constantly learning new facts and discovering new dishes. There are some cuisines that I would love to learn more about, such as Vietnamese food. I feel like I barely scratched the surface with the dishes I have tried. But until I visit Vietnam, I'll be recreating dishes at home. These Vietnamese pork lettuce wraps are my nod to the country. It's not an authentic dish but it borrows from their recipes such as the nuoc cham sauce. And it's pretty darn delicious!
Vietnamese Pork Lettuce Wraps
Cilantro mint nuoc cham
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- ¼ cup chopped mint
- 2 scallions chopped
- 2 shallots finely chopped
- 1 Thai chile chopped
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 lb ground pork
- salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon minced lemongrass
- 8 ounces sliced water chestnuts
- 1 carrot grated
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 12 lettuce cups
- 1 Persian cucumber sliced
- ½ cup crushed peanuts
- Make cilantro mint nuoc cham. Combine brown sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, and water in a medium bowl. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add remaining ingredients for sauce including cilantro, mint, scallions, shallots, and Thai chile, mixing until combined. Set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saute pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add ground pork and cook until browned, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add garlic, ginger, and lemongrass and saute for 1 minute. Add water chestnuts, carrot, soy sauce, brown sugar, and fish sauce, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer and continue to cook for another minute. Remove from heat.
- Assemble pork lettuce wraps. Fill lettuce with pork filling and top with sliced cucumber, and crushed peanuts. Serve with cilantro mint nuoc cham.
Watch how to make this:
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
This Vietnamese pork lettuce wrap is a combination of Chinese and Vietnamese recipes, giving Chinese lettuce wraps a Vietnamese spin. It's full of flavor, healthy, and incredibly satisfying.
Every lettuce wrap, no matter the origin, needs a finishing sauce. I normally make a peanut sauce but to give this recipe the Vietnamese touch, I swapped it for a cilantro mint nuoc cham.
Nuoc cham is a popular Vietnamese dipping sauce. It's served with many dishes including vermicelli noodle bowls, egg rolls, and even as a finishing sauce for broken rice plates. I decided to incorporate cilantro, mint, scallions, and shallots for a fresher take.
Set aside the sauce while you prepare the filling. I used ground pork for the protein but you can also use ground chicken, ground beef, ground turkey, or tofu.
Brown the meat in a large saute pan. Then, add the aromatics including garlic, ginger, and lemongrass. Make sure to finely chop the lemongrass or it won't soften completely.
I thought long and hard about which vegetables to incorporate in the filling and ended up going with the classic water chestnuts and carrots combo. It's familiar and just works.
Season the filling with soy sauce, brown sugar, and fish sauce. Let the mixture simmer and really soak up those flavors.
Meanwhile, prepare the Vietnamese pork lettuce wrap toppings. Thinly slice Persian cucumber, crush toasted peanuts, and wash lettuce cups. I used Bibb lettuce but you can also use iceberg lettuce or even Romaine.
Serve the lettuce cups with the toppings and cilantro mint nuoc cham and let the diner assemble the lettuce wraps. It's best to assemble the cups as you eat so that they don't get soggy.
I can honestly say that these wraps were right on the money. They might be the most flavorful wraps I've ever had with the sweet tangy and herby nuoc cham sauce as the finishing touch. A healthy and incredibly delicious weeknight meal!
For more Vietnamese inspiration check out these brown butter nuoc cham scallop rolls!