Pork Tenderloin Lettuce Wraps with Ginger Lime Dressing
Living in a multi-cultural city amongst generations of immigrants from all over the world means there is no shortage of global cuisine within easy reach. Walk a mile out my front door and you can be sitting down to a meal from Nepal, El Salvador, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Japan, or Sardinia. And while I enjoy dipping my fork into all of these cuisines, nothing has gotten under my skin like the food of Vietnam. Whenever the call for “take-out” rings through the hallways of our house, Vietnamese is almost always my order of choice. The lightness and fresh, bright nuances are hard to resist. These Pork Tenderloin Lettuce Wraps, though hardly authentic, are inspired by those flavors.
These lettuce wraps bring together what I love about Vietnamese cooking, done for the home kitchen. You start by making a ginger and lime marinade that does double duty. You use half to marinate the pork. The rest is set aside to drizzle over the finished wraps. The tenderloin, a particularly lean cut, cooks up quickly and very tender. Chicken or flank steak would work equally well here.
How to Serve these Lettuce Wraps
Once cooked and sliced, set out the pork along with all of your other “fixings” (cucumber spears, shredded carrots, mung bean sprouts, peanuts, and fresh cilantro). Everything gets piled onto generous lettuce leaves and eaten taco-style. Since pork tenderloin is very lean and all the remaining fixings are on the light side, you may want to add a dish of sticky rice or your favorite Asian-style noodles to the menu. The rice and noodles can be enjoyed on the side or tucked into the wraps as well. You also may want to make more of everything than you need and turn it into a delicious chopped salad for your (or the kids) lunch the next day. It’s just the sort of DIY dinner that kids love with all the Vietnamese flavors adults (at least this one) are crazy about.
If you like Pork Tenderloin Lettuce Wraps, check out:
Chicken, Tofu, and Shitake Lettuce Cups from Viet World Kitchen
Pork Tenderloin Lettuce Wrap with Ginger Lime Dressing
These lettuce wraps bring together what I love about Vietnamese flavors, done for the home kitchen. You start by making a gingery marinade for the pork that doubles as a dressing for the salad. The tenderloin, a particularly lean cut, cooks up quickly and very tender. Chicken or flank steak would work equally well here.
- 1/2 cup lime juice (4 to 5 limes)
- 1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon neutral flavored oil, such as canola or avocado
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce or other favorite hot sauce (adjust based on how spicy you want it)
- 1 large clove garlic, grated on a microplane or minced
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
Pork and Wrap Fixings
- 1 pound pork tenderloin
- 1 tablespoon canola or other neutral oil
- 1 1/2 cups mung bean sprouts
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1/2 English cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch-thick spears
- 1/4 cup roasted, salted peanuts
- 1/3 bunch fresh cilantro (chopped or in sprigs)
- Leaves from 1 large head butter lettuce or 1 head Romaine lettuce
In a small bowl, whisk together the Marinade/Dressing ingredients (lime juice, rice vinegar, fish sauce, honey, oil, srirach, garlic, and ginger. Put the pork tenderloin in a medium bowl and pour half the marinade over it. Marinate for 1 hour, turning hte pork in the marinade from time to time. Note: You can marinate the pork in the fridge for up to 8 hours. Reserve the remaining Marinade /Dressing for serving.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large, heavy skillet (I use cast iron) over medium-high. Remove the pork from the marinade, allowing the juices to drip off. Lay the pork in the skillet and cook until it's deeply browned on all sides and the center of the meat is pale pink and registers 145 degrees on an instant read thermometer, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove the pork from from the pan and rest for 10 minutes. The internal temperature of the pork will rise as it sits.
While the meat cooks, arrange the bean sprouts, carrots, cucumbers, peanuts, cilantro, and lettuce on a serving platter.
Cut the meat in half lengthwise and then crosswise into thin slices. Set out the pork with the rest of the wrap fixings, with the remaining dressing on the side.
To assemble, layer the pork, sprouts, carrots, cucumbers, peanuts, and cilantro on the lettuce leaves. Spoon a little dressing over the top.