I also love Thai food, so this recipe from Cooks Illustrated was a no-brainer the minute I saw it and knew I had a pork tenderloin crying out for me to be used.
This is a great way to introduce your kids to healthy Asian food, and some new flavors to their palette. Just tell them they’re having Thai lettuce tacos or something. 😉
Oh, and feel free to omit the pepper flakes if you’re worried about spiciness. I didn’t find this to be overly hot, but your mileage (or that of your kids) may vary. You could also try using chicken or turkey if you’d like, but I’d still recommend using the same process of grinding it yourself, and be careful not to overcook and dry out the meat.
NOTE: If you’re not familiar with fish sauce (or don’t like fish) don’t give in to the temptation to leave it out. It wouldn’t be the end of the world, but if you enjoy good Thai food, fish sauce is part of the unique flavor — and you’ve already had it and just didn’t know it! Also, don’t skip the toasted rice either! It’s important to the texture and flavor of the dish. Any style of white rice can be used.
Thai Pork Lettuce Wraps
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound), trimmed of silver skin and fat, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp white rice
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 shallots, peeled and sliced thinly
3 tbsp lime juice (fresh squeezed is best)
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
3 tbsp roughly chopped fresh mint leaves
3 tbsp roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 head lettuce (Bibb, if possible), washed and dried, leaves separated and left whole
Place pork chunks on large plate or pan in single layer, and freeze meat until firm and starting to harden around edges but still pliable (about 15 to 20 minutes).
Place half of the meat in a food processor, and pulse until coarsely chopped (five to six 1-second pulses).
Transfer ground meat to medium bowl and repeat with remaining chunks.
Stir 1 tablespoon fish sauce into ground meat and marinate in refrigerator for 15 minutes.
While meat marinates, heat rice in small skillet over medium-high heat; cook, stirring constantly, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool for 5 minutes.
Grind rice with spice grinder, mini food processor, or mortar and pestle until it resembles fine meal, 10 to 30 seconds (you should have about 1 tablespoon of rice powder).
Bring chicken broth to a simmer in large nonstick skillet. Add ground marinated pork and cook, stirring frequently, until about half of pork is no longer pink, about 2 minutes.
Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the rice powder over the pork.
Continue to cook pork, stirring constantly, until remaining pork is no longer pink, 1 to 1½ minutes longer. Transfer pork to large bowl; let cool 10 minutes.
Add remaining 1½ tablespoons fish sauce, remaining 2 teaspoons rice powder, shallots, lime juice, sugar, red pepper flakes, mint, and cilantro to pork; toss to combine.