We love lettuce cups anytime but during Chinese New Year, iceberg lettuce is considered an auspicious food to eat! One of the best ways to enjoy iceberg lettuce is make lettuce wraps.
This post was updated on December 21, 2023.
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Why is Lettuce Considered Lucky?
In the Chinese culture, if a food sounds like a blessing for future success, then it’s part of the celebration. The word for lettuce in Chinese is Sang Choy 生菜 which sounds like growing fortune. A very traditional Cantonese Chinese New Year dish is to make lettuce wraps with pork and oysters. It’s one of my favorites but too labor intensive for an everyday meal.
I recommend Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Hoisin Sauce (Nut-Free) or Wagyu Sausage Lettuce Wrap. My sons love the hands-on experience of eating lettuce wraps! They fill their lettuce cups with ground meat and finely chopped vegetables or fried rice. Easy Vegetable Fried Rice with Eggs is delicious in lettuce cups.
Beautiful Lettuce Cups
It seems simple enough to make lettuce cups. I have even watched Master Chef Martin Yan effortlessly make perfectly circular lettuce cups in person. When I followed his instructions, the leaves tore apart as I wash them and became lettuce strips and scraps.
I’ve figured out a hack to make beautiful lettuce cups. Use water and gravity to separate the leaves and then scissors to trim the leaves. Do not waste any of the scraps and set aside any leftover lettuce. They’re great for a salad or a simple side dish such as stir fry lettuce with oyster sauce.
Allergy Mom Tip
Our children (and adult friends or family members) with food allergies need to be very self-disciplined to avoid their allergens. The constant vigilance must be emotionally draining. I try to alleviate some of the emotional burden of food allergies by preparing beautiful food. A little bit of care to make a nice presentation or a DIY experience can bring smiles. Lettuce cups also helps us to eat more vegetables. These add up to huge wins for the whole family.
Make Beautiful Lettuce Cups for Lettuce Wraps
Transform a head of iceberg lettuce into beautiful lettuce cups for Asian-style lettuce wraps.
- 1 head iceberg lettuce (large & heavy)
Select big, dense, heavy for its size iceberg lettuce that looks fresh and free of pinkish discoloration. Usually one head is enough for 4 people.
Peel and discard wilted outer leaves. Use a knife to cut out the core.
Place the head of lettuce, cored side up, in a large bowl and rinse with water, aim the water in between the leaves of lettuce.
Carefully lift the lettuce up out of the water and you will see that the weight of the water inside the lettuce will separate the leaves slightly. Carefully separate the leaves and set them in a colander to drain. Continue separating the leaves until the leaves are too small or too curly for making cups, set the rest aside in a bowl for other uses.
Place a washed lettuce cup in the palm of your hand, use a pair of clean kitchen scissors, trim off the stiff white stem and the edges of the leaf into an approximately 7-8 inch diameter circle; set aside the prepared lettuce cup on a plate and the scraps into the bowl of lettuce pieces.
Repeat with the remaining leaves, pat dry with paper towels, and arrange the lettuce cups in a stack to enjoy with lettuce wrap filling of your choice.
Use the extra lettuce in a salad or side dish
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