Vietnamese Meatball Lettuce Cups
with rice / mango pear smoothie
Crisp lettuce leaves used as cups (or wraps) make this a lighter and more summer-friendly way to enjoy flavorful Vietnamese-inspired meatballs.
Mango and Pear Smoothie:
- Pears - 1/2 lb , peeled and chopped
- Mangos, frozen cubes - 12 oz (sub fresh mangos peeled and chopped)
- Lime juice - 2 Tbsp
- Coconut water - 1/2 cup
- Ginger - 1 tsp , grated
- Garlic - 2 cloves , chopped
- Cilantro leaves - 2 Tbsp , chopped
- Beef, ground - 1 lb
- Eggs - 1
- Panko - 1/4 cup
- Salt - 1/2 tsp
- Fish sauce - 2 tsp
- Oil, cooking - 1 Tbsp
- Stock, any type - 1/4 cup
- Soy sauce - 2 Tbsp
- Honey - 1 Tbsp
Vietnamese Meatball Lettuce Cups:
- Rice, uncooked white or brown - 3/4 cup
- Carrots - 5 oz , shredded (look for pre-shredded)
- Vinegar, rice - 1 Tbsp
- Sugar - 1 tsp
- Oil, cooking - 2 tsp
- Lettuce, romaine - 12 leaves (sub green leaf or iceberg)
- Vietnamese Meatballs (ingredients listed separately) - ~16
- Peanuts, roasted and unsalted - 1/2 cup
- Hot sauce (opt) - for serving
- Rice - Skip if made ahead for Monday. For white rice, rinse until clear. Fill a saucepan or Dutch oven (or rice cooker) with rice, water (use 2:1 ratio for water to rice), and some salt. Cover with lid and bring to a boil. Once water boils, stir, lower heat to a low-medium, and cover. Check white rice after ~20 min; brown at ~45 min. Rice is done when it's absorbed all the water. If it's not done, leave the cover on until all water has been absorbed. Take cover off to release steam and fluff with a wooden spoon after 5 minutes. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
- Ginger / Garlic - Prep as directed and combine. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
- Pickle carrots - Combine carrots with vinegar, sugar, and oil (portion for lettuce cups). Toss everything together. Marinate for at least 20 minutes and up to 2 days. (Can be done up to 2 days ahead)
- Lettuce / Pears - Prep as directed. Store separately. (Can be done up to 2 days ahead)
- Make meatballs - Chop cilantro. Combine cilantro, ginger, garlic, beef, eggs, panko, salt, and fish sauce. Form into 1” / 2.5 cm meatballs. (Can be done 1 day ahead)
- Make smoothie - Blend pears, mangos, lime juice, and coconut water in a blender.
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- Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add oil (portion for meatballs) and then meatballs. Gently saute meatballs until golden brown on all sides, ~5 minutes total.
- Whisk together stock, soy sauce, and honey. Add to skillet. Cover meatballs with a lid or foil. Reduce heat to low. Cook meatballs, covered, until cooked through, 7 to 8 minutes more.
- Reheat rice if made ahead.
- Stir carrots and season with a pinch of salt.
- Assemble lettuce cups by filling lettuce leaves with rice, pickled carrots, meatballs, and peanuts. Add some hot sauce, if you’d like. Enjoy smoothies on the side.