Happy Chinese New Year – Beef with Lettuce Cups Recipe

We’d been celebrating Chinese New Year the entire month of February.   Making dishes for other blogs and articles, we had been eating lots of yummy recipes so I could take photographs, like this.  See below for the lettuce cups recipe.

lettuce cups

Of course the grand finale of our Chinese New Year celebration was the actual parade.  This year as the past three, was a spectacle of sights and sounds of dancing dragons, decorative floats, music and firecrackers.

Like year’s past, we arrived early and walked the streest of Chinatown; snacking on a pork bun, buying poppers and sparklers, visiting the pet shop, stopping at the fortune cookie factory and people watching. 

A dried fish stand
I paid 50 cents to take this photo of the factory

Before the parade we had a great dinner of dim sum and seafood.  One of the dishes was a seafood nest.  The nest was potato strings all weaved together like a nest (th seafood sat inside).  I had wanted to take a photo to show you, however the waiter was so quick to break (oh gasp!) and serve the dish, I wasn’t quick enough. 

Ellery and her carrot flower

The evening ended for us a bit early (the parade wasn’t quite over) as the crowd was getting a bit rowdy (more than I remember in the past).  There were many more fireworks and smokebombs in the crowd.  Our ears had heard enough, our bellies were full (we had a custard cup on the walk back to the car) and we were happy to help usher in the year of the tiger.


Beef-Filled Lettuce Cups

Lettuce cups are a fun excuse for kids to eat with their hands. If you’re looking for the flavor without the mess, you can simply have children eat the beef mixture out of a bowl with a spoon or fork. This also works as a salad when entertaining by shredding the lettuce and mixing with the beef to be enjoyed with chop sticks out of individual Chinese take-out boxes. For vegetarians substitute diced firm tofu for the beef.

Makes 3 cups beef mixture or 16 to 18 filled lettuce cups

2 teaspoons expeller-pressed canola oil

2 tablespoons minced organic red bell pepper

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 pound organic lean beef

¼ cup fresh organic mushrooms (portobello, crimini or shiitake), chopped

3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves

2 teaspoons organic low-sodium tamari

1½ teaspoons ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice

16 to 18 organic butter lettuce leaves

2 tablespoons prepared plum sauce (optional)

In a large frying pan or wok, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper, shallot, and garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add beef, breaking apart and stirring, until starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Drain off excess fat and liquid from mixture.

            Stir in the mushrooms, cilantro, tamari, allspice, ginger, and lime juice and cook until beef is cooked and mushrooms are tender, about 2 minutes.

            Serve beef mixture in a large bowl alongside lettuce leaves. To eat, spoon beef mixture into leaves then top with ½ teaspoon plum sauce (if using).

Pack Perfectly. To pack and take to a family dinner or pot luck, put beef mixture in one container and layer cold, crisp lettuce leaves in another.