As much as I love to cook, I’m not one to make dainty little tedious items like samosas and spring rolls and little fondant cake toppers. I have utmost respect for people who do that though (so that people like me can enjoy them), but I just don’t have that kind of dedicated patience. I’m more of a “throw-everything-into-a-sizzling-wok-and-serve” kind of person.
For Iftar today, I was exhausted as usual. I was this close to asking my husband, (I will henceforth refer to him as M), to just take me out- when I noticed an untouched head of Iceberg lettuce in the crisper. Now, one just can’t have a mere salad for Iftar or Suhoor, it just isn’t enough for a famished, fasting Muslim. What else can be done with a huge gorgeous ton of lettuce then? But of course: lettuce wraps. Now, I wasn’t going to sit and make individual wraps though (ain’t nobody got time for that!), so I put together the components that go into it and let everyone fend for themselves. This is also a great option when cooking for crowds or having company over. It’s a fun activity, if you get a kick out of watching your guests struggle to assemble their own appetizers.
Lettuce wraps are usually stuffed with a mince of some sort. P.F Chang’s is famous for their chicken mince lettuce wraps. Gordon Ramsay boasts a brilliant recipe for crispy beef lettuce wraps. I, however, decided to go with my favorite option; which is the quickest, easiest, and most inconspicuous: savory soy protein.
I buy Neal’s Yard Wholefood’s Savory Soya Protein from Holland and Barret and advocate it so much that they might as well hire me as a brand ambassador. I’m no vegan, but I do love my vegetables, and I just can’t stand minced meat if there’s a high fat content in it. No, not because I only eat healthy, but because all those stretchy slimy chunks of white fat which constitute 50%(?) of the mince seriously turn me off. SO, when I saw this Soya Protein at my favorite health store, I instantly decided to give it a try and didn’t regret it for a single second. It’s much easier and much quicker to cook than actual mince, and my carnivorous husband is very happy eating it as long as I don’t tell him what it is.
This doesn’t have much flavor on it’s own, but cook it the right way and I promise you it’s not half bad- and actually quite preferable for people like me.
Here’s how its done:
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon sesame seed oil (this has a very strong and overpowering taste so you don’t want to overdo this)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- 1 cup savory soy protein mince
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- Sautee the onions, ginger and garlic and salt in the oil for 5 minutes.
- Add in the soya mince and give it a stir. Add the water and mix. Keep the heat medium high.
- Add sesame seeds, white rice vinegar and bean sprouts. Keep mixing as the heat is medium high.
- Lower the heat and leave for 2-3 minutes.
- Remove from heat and serve. You don’t want the bean sprouts to completely wilt. You want them soften just a bit.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with lettuce wraps; you take a leaf of lettuce, spoon some mince on to it, drizzle some sauce of choice on top, roll the leaf up and stuff it in yo mouth. I couldn’t take pictures of the struggle as I was elbow deep in sauces and too lost in the deliciousness to even care.
You can serve these wraps with any assortment of sauces that you like. I used a lemon ginger sauce, store-bought chili garlic sauce, and a tom yam peanut sauce. You can also use a lemon-sesame-cilantro sauce. I’ll be posting recipes for all these separately.