Asian Lettuce Cups Recipe with Ground Turkey & Green Apple

Asian Lettuce Cups

What you’ll learn:

  • How to make a vegetarian version of this Asian Lettuce Cups Recipe
  • How to properly “cook” the apples
  • How long you should fry the mung bean noodles

Don’t you feel like this dish should just ::wink:: and do a little sexy twirl?  Such a flirty little thing!

“Asian Lettuce Wraps” or “Asian Lettuce Cups” is the most requested recipe on my site.  I’ve updated this Asian Lettuce Cups Recipe to be lighter, more refreshing and healthier.  No goopy cornstarchy sauce!  Sorry, P.F. Chang!  You can make a vegetarian version – just substitute crumbed tofu, more vegetables or even plain rice for the ground turkey. Traditionally, the recipe includes canned water chestnuts, which honestly taste like crunchy styrofoam.  Instead, I’ve used crisp diced green apples – which is much tastier.

The mung bean noodles look clear and transparent when dried and puff up in just a few seconds time when fried. They are NOT “rice noodles” – when in doubt, look at the ingredient list on the back. It should say “mung beans.”

Hey…who’s stealing my apples?


Asian Lettuce Cups Recipe

Servings: Prep Time: Cook Time:
Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 3.59.12 PM


The Sauce:
1-1/2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 stalks, scallions
1 pound ground turkey or chicken
2 cups mixed vegetables (frozen pea/carrots, finely diced bell peppers, etc.)
1/2 green apple, finely diced
1 head boston bibb lettuce, leaves washed and separated
2 skeins, Mung Bean Noodles
2 medium carrots, Use vegetable peeler to peel cut carrot into paper thin strips.  Use knife to further cut into super duper thin strands. Or, use the handy kitchen gadget <- I like this gadget


1. To fry the mung bean noodles, heat a wok or small sauce pan (something not too wide at its base. the smaller the base width, the less oil you will need to use) with about 2 inches of cooking oil. While oil is heating to 375F, use your hands to separate the strands of the mung bean noodle into small clumps. When oil hot, fry one batch at a time. It should only take 10 seconds to fry. Remove, drain on paper towels.

2. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.

3. To make the filling, heat wok on high heat with cooking oil. When oil is hot, add scallions, ginger and garlic and fry a few seconds until fragrant. Add turkey or chicken and fry until almost cooked through. Add the vegetables  and cook 1 minute. Add sauce ingredients. Let simmer for 1 minute to thicken slightly.

4. Add the apples. Toss to coat. Immediately remove from heat. You don't want to "cook" the apples - keep them nice and crunchy. Serve with lettuce cups, carrot shavings and fried mung bean noodles.


Kitt’s comment below just reminded me of the great weekend we just had with my baby birds.

Fighting for “THE BITE.”

Andrew is taller, he has the advantage.

But Nathan has sharp teeth

And swoops in for the kill

Did I scold him? Hell no. Smart strategy I say!

More recipes to explore:

Grilled Shrimp Lettuce Cups with Tropical Fruit Salsa (Steamy Kitchen)

15 Minute Asian Light Meals (Steamy Kitchen)

Fried Noodles with Garlic Shrimp (Steamy Kitchen)

Asian Slaw with Ponzu Dressing (Steamy Kitchen)

Chicken Lettuce Cups (Epicurious)


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Comments 83

  1. Nathan

    watch out for the poser hot sauce with the GOOSE on it. on the outside it looks the same, but on the inside, it’s got nothing on rooster.

  2. Kitt

    You’re lucky I live so far away. I would so be stalking your house at dinnertime otherwise — doing my best baby bird impression.

  3. Kat

    These look and sound great. I’ve also made a version of this before and thank goodness the water chestnuts I used didn’t taste like styrofoam!

  4. Ellie

    I love my mung bean noodles, but have never ever had them fried before! Hmm, this needs looking into 😀 Gorgeous photos, as per usual, love the second one with the tiny hand entering via stage right 😉

  5. LunaPierCook

    About those added photos; I’m not sure if “That bites!” would suffice, or if I should go with, “Oh, you and your biting humor”, or maybe, “I always knew your blog had teeth to it”, or quite possibly, “He obviously leaves quite an impression” … 😉

  6. wonda

    Such handsome cute boys! Twins? And such delicate, sophicated, sexy wraps! Thanks for dropping by my blog.

  7. Lynn

    As always, you’re brilliant. Substituting green appples for water chestnuts is awesome. I put them in for the crunch, but don’t especially like the flavor. Your boys are too funny!

  8. Zoomie

    Love your baby birds – they are gorgeous! Not to mention your photographs! Thanks for the recipe, I love lettuce wraps but never knew how to make them before!

  9. Kace

    And here in SoCal we’ve conveniently called “Srirarcha” sauce….

    …”Cock Sauce”.

    Great recipe!

  10. Ari (Baking and Books)

    Well the dish looks scrumptious, there’s no doubt about that. I love getting these at PF Changs, though now I’m wondering whether there is a veggie version since I’ve stopped eating meat?

    But my favorite part of this past was the action shots of your little ones – they are adorable! I can almost hear the sound effects and they attack that food. Rawr! Chomp!

  11. Lydia

    Using apples instead of water chestnuts is inspired! I’ve never liked water chestnuts, but I appreciate the need for crunchy texture in some dishes. Will definitely put this tip to good use!!!

  12. Marvin

    I do like water chestnuts, but that is a great idea with the apples. What kind of lettuce did you use? Is it just butter lettuce?

  13. wmw

    You’re right, such a sexy looking dish you have there..And your two baby birds are such cuties! Mmm….is that a side profile of your hubby, he’s quite a dish too (from what I can see)! LOL!

  14. veron

    Oh wow, what vibrant colors! Yes, definitely way better than PF Changs. Love the pic of your kids …looks like they are hearty eaters.

  15. Melinda

    I think the boys upstaged your post. They are such cute little stinkers! I love the picture of Andrew crying in the background. He didn’t see that one coming!
    (Asian lettuce cups sound very good. Would be good for a works do I have to bring something to.)

  16. tigerfish

    The addition of green apple was indeed a good idea 🙂 …crunchy styrofoam (errmmm…canned water chestnuts..made in ermmmm? )
    I totally like the colors of this – so inviting.

  17. Connie

    ohh yummy lettuce wraps!! i like mine with honey glazed pork instead of turkey, but i guess you can make them any way you want, huh? lol, your oldest son crying in the background reminds me of me and my brother when we were younger!! 😀 how cute

  18. Kevin

    The photos look amazing and the recipe looks really tasty. I especially like the sound of the green apples and tangerine marmalade.

  19. Steve

    Looks great, but I’m confused by the pictures. Your ingredients list says minced garlic and grated ginger, but I don’t see those on the plate. It looks like pickled radish (the yellow) and either carrots or pickled ginger (the orange in the middle). Am I missing something?

    BTW, these are my wife’s favorite dish at Pei Wei, a PF Chang’s knock-off (better than PFC, in my opinion).

  20. SteamyKitchen

    Nathan- even rooster sauce has imposters?

    Kitt- yes. good thing. I’d be sneaking over to your lovely home and in your garden!

    Meeta- i’m gonna git u back! Remember “Last Christmas” by WHAM?

    Kat- I love fresh water chestnuts but the canned version totally suck

    Ellie – fried mung bean noodles ROCK

    East West- he ate half the apple!

    LPC- what an expression! I’m gonna use it at least 4 times today.

    Wonda- not twins, but 17 mo apart

    Lynn- yeah, I like the crunch of water chestnut, and I’d totally use them if I had fresh ones

    Zoomie- very very easy to make – i hope you try

    Andreaa- thank u!

    Little Corner – oh don’t pity big bro- he’s usuallly the one beating up little bro

    Kace- cock sauce! I love it!

    Ari- Substitute crumbled super firm tofu (or press the tofu first to extract the water and then crumble) or just add brown/white rice instead of turkey

    Lydia- just make sure my kids aren’t around when you dice the apple. they’ll come over and eat half of it too

    Marvin- boston bibb

    WMW- yes he is!!! he’s still smiling from reading your comment

    BBO- thank u!

    Veron- they esp like dessert

    Melinda- great recipe for entertaining or for bringing it to a function. Its a nice self-assembly dish that is so non-fussy and fun to eat.

    Tiger – thank you!

    Connie- honey glazed pork sounds YUMMMMM

    Kevin- yeah – the orange marmalade is sweet, sticky and goes so well with everything

    Steve- the orange stuff in the middle are carrots sliced with the Saladacco (pictured above), the yellow is yellow bell. I don’t always show all of the ingredients in the photo – pic was to highlight the beautiful colors of the veg. But trust me! The ginger and garlic were sitting on the cutting board!

  21. Lisa

    The lettuce cups look amazing.. and they would be perfect for a gal like me who’d like to loose a few (1000) pounds. 😀

    Now those kids.. that’s another story all together.

    Could they BE any cuter??? On the first photo of the plate of ingredients, I thought to myself, “Now she can’t have such a cute lil chubby hand, can she??” ha!


    PS – I’ll just crap if you tell me that was your hand. If so.. uhh.. wanna thumb wrestle?

  22. Carol

    Hey Jaden, LOve the textures and the vibrant colors of your lettuce cups. The photos are simply amazing! The boys are so lovable, so heart wrenching to watch ko-ko cry!
    Sorry, Jaden, I will reply your e-mail soon. I’ve been flat out!

  23. Annie

    The lettuce cups look divine, and we will be having them. The boys are ADORABLE, My son has no brother to bite but he would definitely bite one of his cousins to get a bite of something that good….

  24. joey

    Those look so tasty and fresh! So much texture and color…nice touch using the apples 🙂

    As usual, you sons are adorable! Aw!!!

  25. Kate

    That last photo of Andrew with his mouth open, bawling, and clutching his shoulder is priceless. Nathan looks like he isn’t even aware of what happened…..he’s still reaching for the food.

    Wonderful recipe….we would totally love that!

  26. SteamyKitchen

    Retno-Thanks. Yes, healthy…that is…if you don’t pile it high with fried noodles

    Lisa – no…not my chubby hand…its Nathan’s, my eater.

    Kitt- yes. absolutely survival of the fittest! You should see N’s belly.

    Carol – oh but its usually ko-ko who teases di-di

    Jeff – good idea!

    Annie- LOL! I bet the bites get more fierce if chocolate is involved.

    Elaine- Thank you!

    Joey- Next time I might try a recipe that is tropical fruit/grilled ckn in lettuce cups

    Kate- Oh he is FULLY aware…after the bite, he as smirking bit time.

  27. Amy

    I hate water chestnuts, how appropriate that you described them as crunchy styrofoam! 😀 The granny smith apple substitution is genius!

  28. Nan

    Haha…I love the picture of the chomping child! Also, I really love the multi-colored vegetable picture. This is my first time to your site and as a new foodblogger (hopefully), I’m quickly learning what a big place the food blogosphere is!

  29. Jyothi

    Hi, first time here. Really missed a lot. Lovely colors of all vegetables. Lettuce cup looks amazing. Really beautiful pics. Thanks for sharing.

  30. catalina

    Greetings from sunny Manila 🙂

    Been blurking for a while but your cute boys drew me out of the woodworks.

    Love your site . . . fantastic photos . . . great recipes (I love especially the Asian inspired ones of course but your tropical salmon best of all).

    More power!

  31. SteamyKitchen

    Amy- yeah, canned waterchestnuts totally have no taste.

    Nan- thanks for visiting!

    Jyothi- welcome to our crazy crazy world

    Jenn-I need a holster for that hot sauce so I can take it with me

    Catalina: ha! i love that word…blurking! as the official word of the day, i now must use it at least 6 times in correct context.

    Ning’s Mum: Your daughter is a CUTEY!!

    Cindy- thank you !

    Ninja- I’ll let N know that you fully endorse his methods

  32. Terry B

    Those indeed look flirty—and wonderful! The “rooster” hot sauce is our fave too. My wife makes what we call poison gas potatoes, squirting the hot sauce into the skillet of sauting potatoes at the end. It releases such a cloud of eye-stinging heat that it drives everyone but the unlucky cook from the kitchen. But, oh, they are so delicious!

  33. Nora

    Love the blow-by-blow action shots of your sons!

    The colours and textures of this dish is perfect. I like the idea of substituting the water chestnuts with green apple. I don’t mind water chestnuts though in wantons because it retains it’s crunchiness.

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