Beef Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Dipping Sauce

I love fresh, crunchy lettuce wraps! Add a creamy peanut sauce with some heat and I’m all ears. A few months ago, my sister offered to make us dinner and I gladly accepted. I wanted to bring an appetizer so I decided on beef lettuce wraps. Emily loved them and I think they turned out well, so I made a mental note to recreate this. After picking up some vegetables I don’t normally work with, I thought it would be fun to use them in a lettuce wrap.

 

The Ingredients
1 lb ground beef – I used 0.5 lb since I’m only cooking for two

2 green onions – one for the filling and one for the dipping sauce/garnish
2 Serrano peppers – same ^
1 yellow onion
Chard*
3 garlic cloves – two for filling and one for dipping sauce
Cubanelle
Lawry’s seasoning salt
Garlic powder
Lettuce wrap seasoning mix – I used this one

 

The Dipping Sauce
Peanut butter

Soy sauce
Ginger
1 garlic clove
Lemon olive oil
Green onion
Serrano pepper

*To start, I want to recommend using butter lettuce, not chard! I used butter lettuce for the lettuce wraps when I went to my sister’s, but this time chard was the only leafy green in my fridge. I gave it a shot, and surprisingly it’s only a mild disaster. The leaves on chard are large which is great, but extremely fragile so you have to have a gentle hand when filling them. It works as long as you don’t mind needing to use a fork with it. Butter lettuce for wraps is definitely the way to go.

 

Making the Filling
Aside from that stumble, I’m proud of the way these turned out! It’s easy to experiment with bold flavors, which is why I always have fun while I’m making lettuce wraps. When it comes to produce, I tend to become stuck in a routine of buying the same vegetables each week. While grocery shopping earlier this week, I decided to buy three vegetables that were more outside my comfort zone; something spicy, something leafy, and something I haven’t used before. I don’t know why I was expecting the Cubanelle to be spicy, but it had a rich, sweeter flavor. Its thin skin is perfect for sautéeing with the onions.

For the filling, finely dice the yellow onion and one Cubanelle, then slice one Serrano pepper. Heat a cast iron skillet with basil and garlic flavored olive oil until it’s hot enough to make a nice sizzling noise when you toss in the onions.  Don’t add the Serrano peppers yet. As the vegetables simmer, throw in a splash of beef stock and soy sauce. Slice or mash the two garlic cloves and stir in with onions and pepper.

Add the beef when the onions and peppers are fragrant. Season it with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, garlic powder, and I added half of a seasoning packet specifically for lettuce wraps. At first I was disappointed in myself for adding that, but it did add exactly what I was looking for. Feel free to comment what spices you would use!

Let all the juices and ingredients simmer together, stirring occasionally. Now to the fun part.

 

Peanut Dipping Sauce
Get out your ginger, Serrano peppers, garlic, and green onion.

My mom gave me a beautiful mini molcajete and I relish the times I use it! I sliced one Serrano pepper and tentatively ate a piece. Looking at those seeds, I knew it would be hot…despite that I thought it was delicious! Don’t get me wrong, that little sucker is hot, but it didn’t last long and left my mouth with a pleasurable heat. That’s when I added one Serrano pepper, with half the seeds removed, to the filling on the stove. Then, slice and dice one more for the dipping sauce. Control the heat level you’d like by adding less or more of the seeds. Peel and chop the garlic and ginger as well. 

Grind the ginger, garlic, and pepper in the pestle and mortar until they become mushy. This mix smells amazing, mainly thanks to the super fragrant ginger. Add a little bit of lemon flavored olive oil, or normal olive oil and lemon juice, then grind again until they are soft. 

Grab a small bowl and pour in 1/3 cup of water and either 1/3 cup soy sauce or a little less. Dump in the ginger, garlic, and hot pepper paste and whisk. Add two spoonfuls of peanut butter and hand continue mixing. Add more water to make it thinner; once you’re satisfied with the thickness, taste it to see if you need to add anything else. Slice the second scallion and throw some of the white part and some of the green part into the sauce and save the rest for garnishing.

By now the beef should be done, so wash the chard, stuff, and enjoy!



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