Why does lettuce always end up being the sidekick, like Robin? Something that you throw in to make up the numbers or fill empty spaces. While I have serious doubts regarding Robin’s capabilities of playing the lead, I have no such reservations about lettuce. A head of fresh, crisp iceberg can absolutely be the hero of a dish. I cast it in a starring role when I made Asian-style spinach, lamb and vermicelli lettuce cups – a dish that’s light and healthy and yet a big hit because of its big Asian flavours.
This is one of those dinners that I made up as I went along, so use whatever protein and vegetables you may have for the filling, but make sure to serve it in crunchy lettuce leaves, which can be dipped in wasabi-soy for that extra hit.
Spinach, Lamb and Vermicelli Lettuce Cups
- 1 head of iceberg lettuce with leaves 3 per person removed, washed and dried
- 200 g lean lamb mince
- 3 cups spinach chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 inch piece of ginger minced
- 2 fresh or dried red chillies chopped
- 100 g rice vermicelli
- 1 tbsp dark soy
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 2 tsp sugar
- 11/2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds toasted
- Bring water to boil in a large pot, turn off the heat, add the vermicelli, cover and leave to cook for 5-7 minutes, rinse under cold water and drain in a sieve. Set aside.
- In a wok or pan, heat sesame oil and quickly fry minced ginger and garlic with some sugar for a minute or two taking care not to burn. Add the lamb and stir fry on high heat till browned and semi cooked.
- Now toss in the spinach and red chillies and fry for a further 7 minutes till cooked but not soggy. Add soy, vinegar and cook for a minute more before mixing in the vermicelli. Check the seasoning and finally sprinkle the sesame seeds over the filling.
- Spoon this filling into lettuce leaves (shape into rolls if you want) and serve with wasabi-soy.