Vietnamese Pork Patties in Butter Lettuce “Buns” with Herbs and Dipping Sauce
My husband doesn’t like “hands-on” foods, but there are always a few things I can pull out to convince him otherwise. This dish is one of them. I love the spicy meat surrounded by fresh, tender butter lettuce, which you can find in abundance at the Farmers Market this time of year. And use whatever fresh ingredients strike your fancy to add to the filling: shiso, licorice mint, radishes, pea shoots, etc.
1 pound ground pork
1 Tbsp shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 Tbsp sugar, divided
5 Tbsp fish sauce, divided
1 lime, juice and zest
1 cup cilantro, divided
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp chile paste
1 head butter lettuce, leaves separated, washed and dried
1 cup cucumber, peeled and julienned
1 cup carrot, peeled and julienned
1 cup fresh basil
1 cup fresh mint
Mix together pork, shallot, half the garlic, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, lime zest and 2 tablespoons minced cilantro in a large bowl. Chill for 10 minutes.
In another, smaller bowl, stir together water and remaining sugar until sugar is dissolved. Add remaining fish sauce, garlic, chile paste and lime juice and set aside.
Heat a grill to medium-high (or a large sauté pan). Working with roughly 1 rounded tablespoon at a time, form 16-20 oblong patties from the pork mixture. Grill or sauté for 3-4 minutes per side, until cooked through.
Serve in lettuce leaves with vegetables, herbs and dipping sauce.