June 1, 2021

Sesame-Lime Pork Lettuce Cups

Found on page 67 of my Ranch Raised Cookbook!
Photography by Charity Burggraaf

When I get asked if there is anything I miss about living in the Bay Area, my answer is usually “just the sushi and great Asian food!” So when I’m craving Thai food for flavors, I love to make these lettuce cups. The bright, balanced notes in this dish are terrific with pork but also work with ground beef. Using lettuce cups makes a great starter or light lunch, but you can serve the spiced meat over a bowl of steamed rice or noodles for a heartier meal. Brian always has the sriracha close at hand no matter which way it’s served!

Makes about 16 cups


  • 1 head butter lettuce or iceberg lettuce
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 red onion, very thinly-sliced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts or cashews


Halve the head of lettuce and remove the core. Separate the inner leaves so you have 16 to 20 that are about 5 inches in diameter (larger leaves could be cut in half). Transfer to a plate and put in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Heat a heavy skillet (preferable cast-iron) over medium-high heat, and cook the pork, garlic, and ginger, stirring occasionally, until the pork is browned, about 5 minutes. Pour off and discard any excess fat if you like.

Reduce the heat to medium, then stir in the onion, lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, until the mixture becomes fragrant, about 1 minute, then remove from the heat. Stir in about three-quarters of the cilantro and season with salt.

Transfer the pork mixture to a shallow serving bowl and garnish with the remaining cilantro and the peanuts. Serve with the lettuce leaves alongside. To assemble, spoon a few tablespoons of the pork mixture into a lettuce leaf, then wrap and eat. Enjoy!

The comments +

  1. Sabina says:

    Looks yummy!

  2. Chris Noonan says:

    I have been following you for years. Love watching your family. So very interesting. I am from Bar Harbor Maine. Your life is so different from ours. I have made this recipe, it’s great!!!
    Thanks for sharing your life with all of us.

  3. Katie Renaghan says:

    Looks yummy! Love your cookbook. Rancher’s Pie (p. 113) is a family fave of ours!

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