If there was a type of cuisine I could eat forever, it would be anything Asian-inspired (Korean, Thai, Chinese etc). My palette will never grow tired of the bright and equally deep flavours. Every now and then, Randy (my love bug) and I will treat ourselves to a night out at our favourite Thai restaurant, Pai Toronto, or if we’re shopping along Queen St in Toronto, we’ll grab a Bahn Mi Sandwich. We connect over a lot of things (including the fact that we’re both giants!) and delicious food is one of those things. We were in foodie heaven when we took a 3 week trip to Thailand and Vietnam back in October 2016. Two bowls of curry, 1 papaya salad and 2 beers for $7 CAD? Yup, sign us up!
The restaurants I mentioned might not be the most “holistic” or “healthy”, but they bring me pleasure and joy (and yes, it’s OKAY to receive both of those from food). But of course, I’m always mindful of how food makes me feel – as you should be too! A lot of Thai cooking involves refined sugar, which for someone like me who tends to be sensitive to sugar, isn’t ideal for an all-the-time sort of thing (i.e. if I eat too much, it makes me feel drunk!) That’s why I love re-creating #RealAssFood versions of these dishes to enjoy at home all the time!
Some of my favourite Asian-inspired dishes that I’ve made to date are my Sweet Potato Pad Thai, Thai Noodle Salad and Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai. I’ve been meaning to get my “Faux Pho” recipe up on here for ages too! You guys will love that one. I’ll make note of it and get it up here soon.
My newest addition to the Asian-Inspired dishes on my blog are these Korean-Inspired Lettuce Wraps!
I was inspired to make these after making my gal pal/girl boss Joy McCarthy’s (of Joyous Health) version of the Not Your Mama’s Meatloaf recipe from Leah Garrad-Cole’s book, It All Begins With Food. I’ve made them so many times since she posted them and have enjoyed them in a variety of ways – on their own (seriously, plop a toothpick in them and just pop them in your mouth), on top of sallys (okay, “salads”) and now in these Korean-Inspired Lettuce Wraps!
Now you’ll notice these aren’t in your conventional lettuce wraps and that’s primarily because there’s a huge E. coli outbreak warning on romaine lettuce right now. Yup, for real! I think it’s getting close to being safe for consumption again but I didn’t want to chance it. So I swapped romaine lettuce for radichio and endives – and let me tell you, it was the happiest “accident” ever!
The beautiful thing about both of these varieties of lettuce is that they have a bit of a bitter taste. Bitter foods, such as radicchio and endive, are amazing to incorporate as they help to stimulate digestive juices to prepare us for digestion. This is why people who suffer from frequent gas or bloating before a meal might take bitters (a tincture) to prime their system for digestion. The result and benefit of incorporating bitter foods are that your palette will feel more balanced, you will feel more satiated (we actually crave bitter foods!) and it will be easy to digest, meaning no gas or bloating – woohoooo!
The BBQ Drizzle sauce was also derived from Joy McCarthy via Leah-Garrad Cole and is such a great alternative to store-bought ketchup and BBQ sauce. It brings such a sweet & salty flavour to these lettuce wraps and contains all whole foods, which I like to refer to as #RealAssFood! I also love the addition of the grated sweet potato in the meatballs, which makes the meatballs extra moist with a hint of sweetness!
Korean Inspired Lettuce Wraps
- 1lb organic grass-fed ground beef
- 1 sweet potato, grated
- 1 egg
- 1 small onion
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 cup almond flour or brown rice flour
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp tamari
- 1 tbsp avocado oil (to grease pan)
- 1/2 tsp ceylon cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- dash of sea salt
- 1 head of raddichio (makes about 4-8 wraps)
- 1-2 endives (makes about 4-8 wrap inserts)
- 1 carrot, julienned
- fresh basil, chopped
- kimchi to garnish (optional)
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1/4 cup tamari
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Begin by sauteing the onion in a pan on medium-high heat with avocado oil.
- Transfer sauteed onion to a bowl and add the remaining meatball ingredients.
- Form into golf ball-sized balls and set on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through.
- While the meatballs are cooking, mix together the BBQ drizzle ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.
- Once you’ve done that, prepare the radicchio leaves by placing 1 endive leaf in the middle of it. Lay down the julienned carrot.
- When the meatballs are done, let cool for 5-10 minutes. When ready to serve, place 2 meatballs down on a radichio/endive leaf.
- Top with freshly chopped basil and drizzle with the BBQ Drizzle. If you have kimchi, you can top your lettuce wraps with it at this point.
- Store remaining meatballs in fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for later use.
What’s your favourite Asian-inspired dish?