Thai Lettuce Wraps with Beef and Fresh Basil (Fun to Eat!)

Thai Lettuce Wraps with Beef & Fresh Basil!
Thai Lettuce Wraps with Beef & Fresh Basil - makes dinner fun!. D.Schmidt for About.com
    27 mins
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Crisp, crunchy, savory, with just the right amount of spice, these fresh Thai lettuce wraps make dinner into something you'll look forward to.  They're easy to make too, and need I mention how healthy they are? Just get yourself a head of fresh lettuce, preferably some with wide, large leaves, and then stir-fry up the filling.  For casual, everyday eating here is the way I serve this dish:

I put the whole wok on a pot-holder in the center of the table (serving it in the wok keeps the filling hot). Set individual leaves on a plate beside it. Add a small bowl of chopped cashews as the topping. Then tell your loved ones to put their own wraps together. And if you have anyone at your table who loves it extra spicy, another side dish is Thai chili sauce (completely optional). Now everyone wrap up and enjoy!

What You'll Need

  • 1/2 - 3/4 pound ground beef or bison
  • 1 head fresh lettuce (look for wide, firm leaves)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 green onions, sliced
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal OR ginger, sliced into thin, matchstick-like pieces OR grated
  • 1/2 to 1 fresh red or green chili, minced, adjust to taste
  • 1 small green pepper, diced
  • 1-2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/4 to 1/3 loose cup fresh basil (if you can't find basil, fresh mint is also excellent)
  • 1/3 cup dry-roasted cashews
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • For Stir-Fry Sauce:
  • 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
  • 1 heaping Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice

How to Make It

  1. Separate lettuce leaves and rinse. Spin in salad spinner and set in refrigerator until time to serve.
  2. With a large knife, roughly chop cashews on a cutting board with a knife. Set in a small serving bowl. 
  3. Stir all 'STIR-FRY SAUCE' ingredients together in a cup. Set beside stove.
  4. Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat.  When hot, drizzle in the oil, then add the garlic, onion, galangal or ginger and chili.  Stir-fry to release the fragrance (about 1 minute). 
  1. Add the ground beef.  Stir-fry 5-6 minutes.  As you stir-fry, gradually add up to half of the stir-fry sauce.
  2. Add green pepper plus a few more Tbsp. stir-fry sauce. Stir-fry 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes plus remaining stir-fry sauce. Stir-fry 2 more minutes.
  4. Switch off heat.  Rough chop up the basil and add to the wok. Fold in.
  5. Taste-test for flavor, adding more fish sauce if not flavorful enough. If too salty for your taste, add more lime juice. More chili can be added for more spice. 
  6. To put wraps together, simply take a lettuce leaf, spoon some hot stir-fry into the center, and top with chopped cashews (for more serving tips, see my introduction above). Enjoy!