Sometimes I do miss grains and bread but not enough to stray from my diet, so I have to get creative with vehicles for carrying my favorite proteins and vegetables. Tacos are fun and easy to eat, as are sandwiches. However, lettuce is a really good and healthy substitute for tortillas or sliced bread. Lettuce is pliable, flavorful, and can hold a variety of ingredients.
I recently made these hoisin beef lettuce cups that were delicious. But, I did have to make my own hoisin sauce and pickling liquid to make the recipe Paleo compliant. Here’s the thing, you can make larger quantities of these elements and use them for other recipes. They will store for several days in the refrigerator.
Is Hoisin Sauce Paleo Compliant?
Store bought hoisin sauce often has sugar and wheat based soy sauce in it, among other additives. It is possible to source gluten-free and Paleo compliant hoisin sauce. But, you will pay a premium. I think it is better to make a large jar of this lovely sauce from scratch to have on hand.
You can substitute dried fruit and raw honey for the sweet components in hoisin. And, use coconut aminos in place of soy sauce. I might be addicted to coconut aminos. Who knew something could activate so many taste buds?
Do I Have to Use Beef?
You absolutely do not have to use beef in this recipe. You can use chicken strips or shrimp if you are not a red meat eater. If you are Paleo vegetarian, I would recommend a mild vegetable, such as zucchini strips or blanched cauliflower florets that can absorb the hoisin flavor.
How to Make Hoisin Beef Lettuce Cups
The basic ingredients for the lettuce cups are:
- Beef sirloin strips
- Butter lettuce leaves
- Pickled carrots and daikon radish
- Hoisin sauce
- Spicy mayonnaise
- Oil for cooking the beef
There are steps to this recipe, starting with making the hoisin sauce and pickled vegetables. The nice thing is that you can make certain things well ahead of time. You can simply cook the beef and assemble all the components right before serving. So, here are the steps.
1. Hoisin Sauce
Make the hoisin sauce first and store it in the refrigerator until ready to use. Heat all the recipe ingredients in a saucepan and blend with an immersion blender. This will last for several days in an air-tight container.
The ingredients call for prunes and raw honey for sweetness, coconut aminos for the salty element, and apple cider vinegar for sourness. Sesame oil and almond butter are incorporated for nuttiness and a creamy texture. Chinese five spice is the key seasoning in hoisin.
Some substitutions can be medjool dates and maple syrup for sweetness. Try cashew or macadamia butter if you don’t have access to almond butter.
If pressed for time, you might want to search for sugar and soy free jarred hoisin sauce.
2. Pickled Carrot and Radish Slaw
I also make this portion of the dish ahead of time. The carrots and radishes can benefit from sitting in the easy pickling brine for a few hours. Just slice the carrots and daikon into matchsticks, or shred them. Then, dress them, season with salt and pepper, cover, and refrigerate until you assemble the lettuce cups. They will stay crisp.
I recommend using a round, purple daikon radish if you can find one. They are not as spicy as the white daikon and are easy to slice. They also add o lovely hue to the dish. White daikon is fine. And, you can always substitute common radishes.
3. Spicy Mayonnaise
This is the easiest part of the recipe. Just whisk together the Paleo compliant mayonnaise and Sriracha and set aside. Paleo compliant mayonnaise does not have added sugars.
4. Cook the Beef and Assemble
Butter lettuce often comes with the root end attached. Be sure to remove and discard that. Wash, drain, and dry your butter lettuce leaves. Set aside them aside while you cook the beef.
Sear your beef, or other protein, in oil until cooked through. Stir in the hoisin sauce and season with salt and pepper.
Spread the lettuce leaves out on one or two large serving platters. Spoon the beef on top of the lettuce. Top that with carrot slaw. Spoon a small amount of spicy mayonnaise over the slaw (a little goes a long way). Serve with napkins and enjoy. This is meant to be eaten with your hands.
What if I can’t Find Butter Lettuce?
Not a problem. Romaine lettuce works great with this recipe. And, it offers a little crunch to enhance the texture. Other good choices are endive or radicchio leaves. They are naturally shaped like little boats to hold ingredients. They also offer a slight bitter taste that I like to round out the salty, sweet, and sour in this recipe.
What to Have with Lettuce Cups
Personally, I find this to be a complete meal and there isn’t a need for anything else. But, I do like to have a nice quality, medium-dry, cold sake or a light, dry red or rosé wine. After devouring these tasty lettuce cups, here are some desserts to try.
Paleo Hoisin Beef Lettuce Cups Recipe
This recipe has a few steps if you want to make your own sauces and condiments. It is worth the effort for a tasty and Paleo compliant dish.
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- 2 pitted prunes
- 2 tbs almond butter
- 2 tbs coconut aminos
- 2 tbs filtered water
- 1/2-1 tsps unfiltered apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 tsp Chinese five spice
- 1/4 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar (ACV)
- 2 generous tsps raw honey
- 1/2-1 cup shredded or julienned carrots
- 1/2-1 cup shredded or julienned daikon radishes (round purple daikon works well)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup Paleo approved mayonnaise (no sugar added)
- 1 tsp sriracha
Beef and Lettuce
- 1 head butter lettuce, washed and drained
- 2 (10 ounce) sirloin steak rounds, sliced thinly against the grain
- 3 tbs grapeseed or olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
More TIPS about this paleo recipe in the post above!
Hoisin sauce: Mince the prunes finely and place them and the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook for 6 minutes until thick and richly colored. For a smoother sauce, blend with your immersion blender. Set aside to cool or refrigerate in an air-tight container.
Pickled vegetables: In a mixing bowl, whisk together the ACV and honey. Cut the carrots and daikon into 2 inch matchsticks, or shred them in your food processor with the appropriate blade to get matchsticks. Place the carrots and daikon in the bowl and toss to coat well. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until ready to assemble the lettuce cups.
Spicy mayonnaise: In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise and sriracha. Set aside.
Beef and lettuce: Remove and discard the root end of the butter lettuce. Wash, drain, and dry the leaves. Set aside. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm 3 tablespoons of oil until hot but not smoking. Add the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and heated through, approximately 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in enough hoisin sauce to coat the beef. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Place the lettuce leaves on one or two large serving platters. Spoon the beef on top of the lettuce. Top that with pickled vegetables. Spoon some mayonnaise over the top. Serve with napkins and enjoy.
Nutrition Information Per Serving
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database. Net carb count excludes both fiber and sugar alcohols (though the latter are rarely seen on this site), because these do not affect blood sugar in most people. We try to be accurate, but feel free to make your own calculations.