Stir-Fried Garlic Lamb in Lettuce Cups Recipe - Wolfgang Puck Recipes
Stir-Fried Garlic Lamb

I've enthusiastically celebrated Chinese New Year every year since 1988. That was when I opened my first Chinois restaurant in L.A.'s Venice Beach neighborhood, specializing in a contemporary fine-dining take on Chinese cuisine.

After all, so many people, myself included, love Chinese food, a cuisine whose enthralling combination of aromas, colors, textures, and flavors always feels like a romantic celebration.

So this year, I thought it would be especially fun to share with you one of my favorite, easy recipes from Chinois: Stir-Fried Garlic Lamb in Lettuce Cups.

This Stir-Fried Garlic Lamb recipe is very quick to make, so you have time to concentrate on other things than just cooking for your Valentine. It's also one of the lightest ways I know to enjoy red meat. (Ground pork or chicken also work very well as substitutes.) Use already ground lamb, or start with a lean cut such as shoulder and have the butcher trim and grind it for you. Then, in minutes, you cook it in a wok or large skillet with easy-to-find seasonings and just a little bit of oil.

Serving the fragrant, moist stir-fried lamb in lettuce cups also contributes to the lightness of the dish, as well as being a convenient, fun, and sensuous way to eat the mixture. In place of the iceberg lettuce suggested in the recipe, you can also use radicchio leaves. Or, on each serving plate, spread a base of baby spinach leaves lightly tossed with a little vinaigrette dressing and then spoon the lamb mixture on top for a main-dish salad that you can eat with a fork.

If you want to make the recipe for a larger Chinese New Year's party, or at any other time of year, simply multiply the quantities as necessary. With a wok or skillet large enough to hold and stir the ingredients with ease, it's still a snap to prepare. Try serving it as a party appetizer, which will serve twice as many people as for a main course.

And if your guests ask what you're celebrating, well, just tell them it's the Year of the Wolf!

Stir-Fried Garlic Lamb In Lettuce Cups

Serves 2 as a main course

1 small head organic iceberg lettuce

3/4 pound finely ground lean lamb

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons bottled hoisin sauce


Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil

3 tablespoons plum wine or port wine

1/2 large organic red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into small dice

Small fresh mint leaves, for garnish

Thinly sliced fresh scallions, for garnish

From the iceberg lettuce, carefully select and detach 4 good, intact inner leaves that form natural cup shapes and set them aside. Cut some of the remaining lettuce into thin julienne strips, enough to make about 1 cup. Set the lettuce cups and shreds aside.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the lamb, garlic, onion, ginger, red pepper flakes, hoisin sauce, and salt and pepper to taste until thoroughly combined.

Heat a wok or a large skillet over high heat until it is very hot. Add the oil and, when it is hot enough to swirl easily in the wok or pan, add the lamb mixture and stir-fry, breaking the meat up into small pieces, until it is cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the plum wine or port wine and the red bell pepper dice and cook, stirring, until the bell pepper is tender-crisp and the mixture looks moist but without any excess liquid, 30 to 45 seconds. Taste a little bit of the lamb and, if necessary, add a little more salt and pepper, stirring quickly.

To serve, distribute the shredded lettuce evenly among the lettuce cups. Spoon the lamb mixture evenly into the cups. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and scallion and serve immediately.


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Stir-Fried Garlic Lamb in Lettuce Cups Recipe - Wolfgang Puck Recipes

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