This would have to be everyone’s favourite chinese starter and if it isn’t, it soon will be!  Crispy iceberg lettuce cups filled with aromatic pork mince makes for a quick, healthy dish that everyone will love……even those that don’t like shitake mushrooms.  Ha Ha!  Tricked you!!

Prep time:  15  Minutes            Cooking time:  10  Minutes (plus mushroom soaking time)       $  Low Budget

Serves 4-6

1 iceberg lettuce

1tbs of peanut oil

500gm of pork mince

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

2cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped

2 eschalots, peeled and finely chopped

8 dried shitake mushrooms*, soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes

1 tin of sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped finely

4 green onions, chopped

1 cup of bean shoots

1/2 a cup of chopped fresh coriander

1/4 cup of oyster sauce

1/2 cup of shaoxing wine* (chinese cooking wine)

2tbs of light soy sauce

1 tsp of sesame oil

To separate the lettuce leaves bang the bottom of the lettuce, right on the core, firmly on the bench.  The core of the lettuce should come away with a bit of a wiggle.  Turn the lettuce upside down and fill it with cold water.  Remove the lettuce leaves gently from the outside, taking care not to tear them too much.  If they have any scraggly bits trim them with scissors so you have nice even palm sized cups.  Place them in a large bowl with ice and water and pop them in the fridge to crisp right up.

Remove the shitake mushrooms from the water, pat dry and chop finely.

Heat a wok or large fry pan to really hot.  It is important to have the wok really hot as you want this to be quite a dry mixture.  Pour in the oil and stir fry the eschallot, garlic and ginger for approximately one minute.  Add the pork mince and keep stirring and breaking up the mince so it is nice and fine.  Pop in the mushrooms and water chestnuts and stir fry for approximately 2 minutes.  Add the shaoxing, oyster sauce and soy, stir through to combine then allow to reduce for a few minutes (you don’t want any liquid in the wok).  Take off the heat and stir through the sesame oil, bean shoots, coriander and 3/4 of the green onions.

Transfer to a serving dish and top with the remaining green onions.  Remove the lettuce from the fridge and drain off any water or ice.  Place in a bowl and serve a good heaped tablespoon of the mince before you tuck in!

*Dried shitake mushrooms and shaoxing wine can be found in most supermarkets and all Asian grocers.