What to serve with lettuce wraps: the best Asian side dishes for a quick, easy and healthy complete meal, from sauces to bao buns and stir fry!
Lettuce wraps are a refreshing and light alternative to traditional tacos or bread-based wraps. When paired with the right filling and sauce, they're a great recipe for healthy eating!
Choosing the Best Lettuce
When it comes to lettuce wraps, selecting the right kind of lettuce is crucial for an enjoyable dining experience. Having the filling fall everywhere and staining your clothes and hands isn't exactly fun!
You want to make sure your lettuce leaves are sturdy enough to hold everything and not fall apart once you load it up. I like butterhead the best. Butter lettuce leaves are firm, gorgeously green and they're the perfect cup shape for wrapping food!
Iceberg lettuce is also a possible option, although you may need to tear the leaves to get the size right. (And the color isn't quite as appetizing.) Romaine lettuce, whilst sturdy, is an awkward shape for wraps!
Make sure the leaves are crisp and fresh to provide the ideal crunchy texture. Nobody likes soggy wraps!
The most popular protein choice is usually chicken, especially ground chicken or shredded chicken breast, which can be easily flavored with different marinades and seasonings.
Orange chicken, soya sauce chicken, soy braised pork, kung pao chicken, and steak fajitas are good recipes for flavorful and satisfying fillings. Or if you want something simple, sear the meat over medium heat and mix with 1 of the sauces below.
Lettuce wraps are super versatile and a great way to make sure you're getting your 5-a-day.
If you're on a vegetarian or vegan diets, a great option is tofu. Alternatively, consider tempeh, young jackfruit or even white rice and beans! Bell peppers, cucumbers, green onions, water chestnuts and carrots are other popular fresh ingredients that can easily be added to Asian lettuce wraps to provide crunch!
Sauces and Dressings
The key to a tasty recipe is finding the perfect sauce or dressing to complement the filling. Here are a few popular options:
- Soy Sauce: This essential Asian condiment has a salty and savory umami flavor that makes a terrific base for many marinades and sauces. Light soy is the most commonly used, but sweet soy and dark soya sauce are also good choices.
- Hoisin Sauce: This thick, sweet, and tangy sauce goes well with chicken, as seen in this braised wings recipe, and tofu.
- Peanut Sauce: A rich, creamy, and slightly spicy sauce that works well with various proteins, adding an extra layer of flavor. Often used for Thai Chicken Lettuce wraps!
- Rice Vinegar: A burst of acidity, in the form of rice vinegar, pickles or a squeeze of lime juice, helps to lift the flavor of the sauces!
- Sesame Oil: Used in small amounts, sesame oil adds a delicate, nutty aroma and enhances the other ingredients' flavors.
- Sriracha: This spicy chili garlic sauce can be drizzled on top of your wraps or mixed with other sauces and dressings.
- Chili Oil: Similar to sriracha, chili oil brings a spicy element to your wraps, but is less tangy and garlicky.
- Gochujang: Gochujang sauce, which is made from Korean chili paste, adds a unique, tangy spice to any lettuce wrap. It works especially well with tofu, pork and chicken.
Note: if you're looking for authentic Asian flavor, try not to cook with olive oil as it just won't taste right!
Now for the best side dishes for lettuce wraps, to make for a nutritious and satisfying meal!
Spring Onion Pancakes
If you don't have green onions, you can use 1 of these spring onions alternatives.
This is a great appetizer for those on a plant-based diet!
Egg rolls are always a popular appetizer! Best of all, these can be baked or fried!
Rice and Noodles
If not serving the Asian chicken lettuce wraps as the main dish, you may want to have rice or noodle dishes to bulk up the meal. If you need a healthier option, there's always brown rice or cauliflower rice!
If you don't have rice noodles, here are some good vermicelli alternatives.
Thai Glass Noodles
Vegetables and Tofu
The teriyaki sauce is delicious drizzled over the wraps too!
Butter Soy Mushrooms
If king oysters are not your thing, here are more Asian dishes which use mushrooms for you!
This Thai eggplant recipe can be used to stuff your wraps or eaten with rice!
Mango Salad with Cucumber
If your using a heartier filling for your wraps, such as steak or ground beef, a sweet and tangy salad is a great way to lighten the meal and make it healthier.
Thai larb moo ลาบหมู is 1 of the most popular Thai street foods. You can serve it as a side dish or use it as a filling in your lettuce wrap recipes!
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