Recipe: Lettuce cups

These lettuce cups are ideal appetizers for entertaining because they are attractive, tasty, and can be made ahead, ensuring that you are not left in the kitchen until the very last moment before your guests arrive. 

Makes: 15 bites


  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, small dice
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, smashed, peeled, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, peeled, grated fine 
  • 1/2 bunch spring onions, minced, white and green kept separately
  • 450g ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water chestnuts, small dice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Hoisin sauce (if unavailable, you can make your own, see below)
  • 1-2 tablespoons Chinese hot mustard
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, crushed or chopped
  • 15 iceberg lettuce cups, cut into 8cm squares


  1. Over medium-low heat, preheat a medium size saute pan for 30 seconds. Add the sesame oil and swirl the pan until it is fully coated with oil.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, white part of the green onion and ginger. Sweat for several minutes until the mixture begins to look translucent.
  3. Turn up the heat to high and add the ground pork. Cook on high, stirring until the meat turns pale brown.
  4. Turn the heat back down to medium-low and add the salt, diced water chestnuts, soy sauce and Hoisin sauce. Cook until moisture evaporates.
  5. Turn the pan off and add the Chinese hot mustard to taste.
  6. After this has cooled down, cover and refrigerate. Can be made up to four days in advance.
  7. Reheat gently in a microwave or saute pan until just warmed through.
  8. Place in a serving bowl, top with peanuts, and serve with lettuce cups.


To make your own Hoison sauce: 

Pour 2 tsp. of sesame oil into a small bowl as the base of the Hoisin sauce. Mix in the following ingredients: 4 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp peanut butter, 1 tbsp honey or brown sugar, 2 tsp white vinegar, a pinch each of garlic powder and black pepper, and 20 drops of any type of hot sauce.