Hawaiian Style Lettuce Wraps

There is a glaring lack of pineapple in this recipe. When you read “Hawaiian style” anything, doesn’t it always have pineapple in it? According to my poor niece, who is allergic to pineapple, everything seems to have pineapple in it, even the least tropical-sounding suspects.


The inspiration for these lovely little bites came from our trip to Maui, though, so for me, they’re Hawaiian. They were served as an appetizer, but are easily filling enough to make a meal. As an aside, we got some of these to bring up to our room for a party the last night of our stay. My mom sent me into uncontrollable laughter by announcing that she had to “go pick up the pu-pu platters” so, apparently, I am the emotional age of our nine-year-old. It’s good to have something in common with your kids.
Back to the recipe – I wanted to lighten up the version that we had on vacation, but at the last minute, I decided to try a variation that is a little closer to the creamy original. First I made a zingy, lime-based dressing that has a funky note from fish sauce. I know, not-so-vegetarian, but for some reason I’ll make an exception for fish sauce, even though I don’t really like fish. Leave it out if it’s not your thing. For the second batch, I stirred together the magical combination of ginger, garlic, and peanut butter, thinned out with soy sauce and vinegar. In the end, I am not sure which of the two dressings I liked better; it wasn’t for want of taking a bite here and a bite there for comparison’s sake, though.

lettuce wraps with ham

Hawaiian-style lettuce wraps
Serves 6
Flavorful rice with peanuts nestled in cute lettuce cups.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups uncooked rice (brown or Basmati)
  2. 3 3/4 cups water
  3. 1 head butter lettuce
  4. 4 slices Canadian bacon or ham
  5. 1 cup fresh or frozen edamame (out of the pod)
  6. 1 large carrot, julienned or finely sliced
  7. 3 scallions, green and white parts sliced
  8. Handful of fresh cilantro, larger stems removed, to serve
  9. Roasted peanuts, chopped, to serve
For the lime dressing
  1. 1 lime
  2. 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  3. 1 tsp brown sugar
  4. 1 tsp fish sauce
  5. 1 clove garlic, minced
  6. 2 tablespoons peanut oil
For the peanut butter dressing
  1. 1 Tbs peanut butter, smooth or crunchy
  2. 2 tsp fresh ginger, grated or minced
  3. 1 clove garlic, minced
  4. 2 Tbs soy sauce
  5. 1 Tbs rice vingar
  6. 1 tsp honey
Instructions
  1. Cook the rice: bring the water to a boil, add the rice, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until water is absorbed (this may take longer for brown rice). Place rice in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Make the dressing(s): for the lime dressing, zest and juice the lime, then whisk in the remaining ingredients. For the peanut butter dressing, stir together all ingredients - this is easiest if the peanut butter is at room temperature.
  3. Saute the ham or bacon in a small skillet until slightly browned, then dice finely. You can either cook the edamame in the same pan, or boil them for 5 minutes in a little salted water.
  4. Add the ham, edamame, carrot and sliced scallions to the rice, and stir in your dressing.
  5. Prepare the lettuce: Separate the leaves, using care to keep them intact. Wash and dry the leaves, then, setting aside the larger, floppier outer leaves for another use (salad? sandwiches?), fill the leaves with about a quarter cup of the rice mixture. Sprinkle chopped peanuts and cilantro over the top to serve.
Notes
  1. You can definitely add more veggies to this recipe - diced red pepper, mushrooms, or zucchini come to mind right away. Leave them raw or give them a quick saute along with the ham. A scrambled egg or tofu can be substituted for the ham to make it vegetarian.
Emperors Crumbs https://www.emperorscrumbs.com/
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