Indonesian-Flavored Pork Lettuce Cups

When I look at my garden for recipe ideas, my thoughts often gravitate toward Southeast Asian food. We grow so many different aromatics, herbs, chilies, and even spices (Yup! We collect our own coriander seeds), that it makes it so easy to make our favorite stir-fry recipes almost on the spot. To make these dishes even easier to make, we always keep Southeast Asian ingredients in our pantry as well - like candlenuts, tamarind paste, and coconut milk. 

Thankfully, even though it's the end of October, we still have a handful of birdseye chilis growing on our 4-year-old chili tree, habaneros and jalapeños growing like weeds, and basil plants that continue to thrive.  With this abundance, great weather, and cloudless skies, I couldn't love October more in Coastal California. My only regret is not growing pumpkins this year. Then we could have made some pumpkin curry on the spot!

Whether or not you grow these aromatics in your garden or your local market carries them, know that they can all easily be ordered online, and you have no excuse not to make it! This is especially true because this Indonesian stir-fry recipe is ready in 20 minutes or less, and is insanely delicious. The spicy pork melts in your mouth with the sweetness of the tamarind and the creaminess of the coconut milk, and the romaine lettuce cups provide a wonderful crunch! Are you drooling yet? I am and I just had some.

Indonesian-Flavored Pork Lettuce Cups

Time: 20 Minutes
Serves 4

1 lb ground pork
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 candlenuts, grated
6 birdseye chilies, seeded, finely chopped
1 large jalapeño and/or 1 small habanero, seeded (can substitute with bell pepper for mild flavor)
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp galangal
1 tsp lemongrass
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp canola oil
1 cup coconut milk
4 tsp tamarind concentrate
1 Indonesian bay leaf (optional)
1 small bunch lemon basil (optional)

To Serve
1 head romaine lettuce cleaves

In a medium bowl, combine pork with onion, candlenuts, chilies, garlic, cumin, coriander, galangal, lemongrass, and salt. 

Heat canola oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add pork mixture, breaking up with a spoon, and sauté until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in tamarind juice, coconut milk, and Indonesian bay leaf. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the coconut milk is mostly absorbed into the pork, about 5 more minutes. Add in the basil leaves and do a few quick stirs until the basil leaves are wilted. Adjust seasonings if desired and remove from heat.

Divide pork, arranging over romaine lettuce leaves, and serve immediately!

If you enjoyed this recipe, you will also enjoy my recipes for Thai Basil PorkPork Belly Stir-Fry with Snow Peas and Mixed Mushrooms, and Szechuan Beef Lettuce Wraps