Asian Chinese Dinner Entree Lunch

Asian Lamb Lettuce Cups

I have been meaning to post one of Lisa’s recipe for a long time but somehow I never found words to describe this amazing Lady the way she deserves.

Lisa is one of these women that proves wrong that saying that a woman can’t have a career and a life.  She went Harvard, had a successful career, have two beautiful and well educated kids: Arabelle and Lucas, a funny dog named Lucy and a lovely husband.    

Things never come easy though, the common denominator for all successful women is one – hard work.     She started working at her parents business with just 10 years old and continued until she had nearly finished the university, today more than 30 years afterwards since she first started working, she is having a well deserved break and dedicating time exclusively to her family.

Lisa is friendly, loving, caring and a beautiful young looking woman.

Unapologetic foodie and amazing cook, she is the co-founder of our “cooking dates”  (we should find a proper name for our little gastronomic rendezvous).    Funny thing is when she arrived in Brisbane I introduced her to all my favorite foodie shopping places and not long time afterwards she was the one introducing me to all her new foodie friends:  I guess it’s no mistake to say I got the best part of the bargain.

Lisa taught me heaps of new kitchen tricks and I have a bunch of her recipes that I promise I will be posting in time (once I take some proper photos).     Some of her recipes have already become my home favorites, like the recipe I am sharing with you today.

For these Lettuce Cups, she taught me that when choosing the Lettuce you should pick the one that are “tighter”.   There is a technique to prepare perfect lettuce cups:    slam the stem of the iceberg lettuce on the bench top: this loosens the stem for easier separation from the leaves, remove stem from the lettuce head, peel off each leave from the stem side.    If the lettuce head is still too tight, remove lettuce leaves under running tap water.   Lettuce pieces should fit on the palm of your hands.

It’s a quite light dish and sometimes I add vermicelli noddles to the meat as it makes the dish more filling for dinner.   For a light lunch it’s just absolutely perfect just the way it is.  

Despite the long ingredients list, these Lettuce Cups are an easy and quick recipe, great for weekday meals.   You can also replace the Lamb for Pork or a mix of Pork and Beef – it is just as good.

So… I finished the post and I still don’t think I did Lisa justice.  

Enjoy her recipe! 



Asian Lamb Lettuce Cupcakes
Serves: 2 (as a full meal, 4 as a side/entrée)  Cost:$ | Difficulty:  Easy | Time: 30min
Author: Lisa Siemsen

For the Mince

  • 1/2 kg of mince lamb
  • 1 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • Handful coriander (cilantro), chopped for garnish
  • Oil for cooking
  • 2 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 Tablespoon corn flour dissolved on 2 tablespoon of water

For the “Aromatics”

  • 1 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 pieces of lemongrass, minced (white parts only)
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • Red chili, minced to taste, optional

For Assembling

  • Iceberg lettuce


  1. Mix all aromatics together in a bowl and reserve
  2. Heat a large skillet with about 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat.
  3. Sautee onions and celery until just tender.  Remove from the skillet and set aside in a bowl. 
  4. Heat the skillet with a dash more of oil over medium high heat and sauté for a couple of minutes – be careful to not let it burn, they fry pretty fast.
  5. Make sure the skillet is very hot and add minced lamb stirring until browned.   Depending on the size of your skillet you may want to do this in small batches to make sure you brown the meat properly, overcrowding the skillet will cause meat to sweat instead of browning.   Crumble the mince with a wood spoon.
  6. When mince meat is browned and crumbled in pan, add the fried aromatics, toss and then add the fish sauce and the water.
  7. Let it reduce a bit for about 3 minutes. 
  8. Slowly stir the corn flour dissolved in water, stirring as you pour.
  9. The liquid mixture turns into a sauce as it boils  – adjust it to your taste, if it’s too thick, add a bit of water, broth, or more fish sauce mixture to taste.
  10. To assemble, slam the stem of the iceberg lettuce on the bench top. This loosens the stem for easier separation from the leaves.
  11. Remove stem from the lettuce head.
  12. Peel off each leave from the stem side – If lettuce head is tight, remove lettuce leaves under running tap water.   Lettuce pieces should be fit on your palm.
  13. Serve the mince in a ” bed of lettuce”  and the pieces of lettuce aside (for eating, fill the lettuce leaves with the mince)

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