I recently checked my cholesterol and it’s still a bit over what’s officially classified as high. I promised my doctor that I was going to bring it down by next year through a plan of eating less animal meat and limiting my cupcakes. (Hey, I knew I would be lying if I said I would completely cut out cupcakes, and I do not lie to my doctor.)
So that brings me to this lettuce cups recipe. Lettuce cups (also known as lettuce wraps) are pretty popular at Chinese restaurants. It’s probably what introduced Americans to the words “mu shu gai pan” because that’s the name of the common filling of minced chicken or pork. Placed into a fresh iceberg lettuce and the crisp and crunch make the entire bite refreshing. (My family loves to order lettuce cups when we would go out for dinner, but I have to say it’s a really messy dish with the juices running down the side of your arms as you try to keep your lettuce cup together.)
I knew eating something in lettuce would be healthy, and instead of chicken or pork, I used shrimp. And for some extra good oils, I threw in some avocado (it doesn’t add anything to the taste but just makes me feel better). There are some traditional ingredients like the water chestnuts and shiitake mushrooms, but this is definitely a newer, fresher version of lettuce cups. Enjoy!
Shrimp Avocado Lettuce Cups Recipe
Makes 6 to 8 small servings
1 head of iceberg lettuce
6 oz. medium sized shrimp, diced into small chunks
1 avocado, pitted and cut into small cubes
4 to 5 shiitake mushrooms (fresh or dried*), diced
1 yellow bell pepper (or red), finely diced
2.5 oz. water chestnuts from can, finely diced
1.5 T hoisin sauce (use extra for dipping)
1 t ground white pepper
2 t oyster sauce
1 T rice wine vinegar
1 T Canola or vegetable oil
couple squirts of Sriracha hot sauce
juice from one lime
1 stalk green onion, finely diced (reserve some for garnish)
Devein and clean shrimp, then dice into small chunks. Blend in small bowl with white pepper, oyster sauce, rice wine vinegar and hoisin. Set aside.
Cut avocado in half and remove pit. Slice flesh into cubes and spoon out of avocado shell and place in small both and mix with the lime juice. (This helps keep the avocado from turning black.)
If using fresh shiitake mushrooms, start by sweating the mushrooms in the oil heated over medium high heat in a non-stick skillet (add a pinch of salt). When mushrooms start to sweat and turn from white to grey, add bell pepper and cook for another minute. (If you’re not using fresh mushrooms, then just start by cooking the bell pepper alone.) Push everything to the side of the skillet and add shrimp to the center and cook for 30 seconds before blending with all the ingredients.
Add water chestnuts and spring onion and cook until shrimp is pink and ready. (If using dried mushrooms, add them here with the water chestnuts.) If your filling seems dry, add 1/4 cup of water or chicken broth. Remove from heat and then gently fold in the avocado bits.
Create lettuce cups by carefully removing each layer of lettuce and rinsing clean. Pat dry with paper towel. (If you want it to be a perfect cup, you can use kitchen shears and cut around the edges to make each cup even.) Serve filling with lettuce cups and more hoisin sauce on the side to add, if wish. Garnish with more fresh green onions.
*When using dried mushrooms, you’ll need to rehydrate them for the recipe by boiling in a pot of water with a splash of soy sauce until plump. Then remove and rinse in cold water and then squeeze out excess water. Then finely dice to blend with the rest of the ingredients.
TIP: Hoisin sauce, often used with duck, is sold in Asian stores in a jar. If you can’t find hoisin sauce, you can try to make your own by mixing some ketchup with Worcestershire sauce.
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