Asian Lettuce Wraps with Homemade Hoisin Sauce


Do you ever base an entire meal on one ingredient? I do…more often than not…usually the ingredient is some sort of fruit or vegetable that I felt sorry for in the produce section because no one was paying it attention.

So instead of starting with a dish and working backwards, my recipes are typically already reverse engineered before I set out to make them.


I saw this package of butter lettuce at the grocery. It was cute. It was alive (no joke, the roots were still attached…is that common? I wouldn’t know; this is the first time I bought butter lettuce). It told me it was coming home with me so that I could stuff it with stuff.  And so I did.

As you may have realized from my various elk posts, we eat a fair amount of game meat. That doesn’t mean you have to….I would encourage you to use ground turkey meat for this recipe if you don’t have access to (or the will to eat) ground elk.  Because both meats are very lean, the recipe itself wouldn’t need to change one bit – the meats work similarly in my experience.

With how much I adore peanut butter, I am surprised it took me so long to make homemade hoisin sauce. That’s right, this is round uno for me in the hoisin world and I have to say, the sauce is phenomenal.  I used a regular sodium soy sauce so if you’re not into salt, I would strongly suggest using the reduced sodium because my recipe turns out pretty concentrated in the salt arena…but a little bit is all it takes to add great flavor to meat and veggies and add some excitement to lettuce wraps.


You’re not to manly to eat a lettuce wrap, so don’t even pretend. These things are so good, you’ll be eating them in secret (like my boyfriend who is very manly and would never admit to eating an Asian Lettuce Wrap). All of the flavors and textures just work. They. Just. Do.  Eat them, you’ll love them!


For Preparing the Elk Meat

  • 1 Pound Ground Elk (or ground turkey/bison)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seed oil
  • ½ yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • ¼ cup chicken stock (or other stock or water)
  • 3 tablespoons homemade hoisin sauce (see recipe below) + more for drizzling on top

Homemade Hoisin Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon black bean flour (or substitute this for an additional tablespoon of peanut butter)
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon (or more) sriracha or other chili sauce of choice

For the Lettuce Wrap

  • 6 leaves butter lettuce, washed and dry
  • 2 tangerines, peeled and separated into pieces
  • ¼ cup walnuts, chopped
  • ½ avocado, chopped
  • Desired amount of elk meat
  • Desired amount of Hoisin Sauce

To Make the Hoisin Sauce:

Simply combine all ingredients in a blender (I used the magic bullet) and blend until a smooth, creamy consistency is obtained. This sauce can be made ahead of time and kept as leftovers for future hoisin needs.

To Prepare the Elk Meat:

Heat 2 teaspoons of sesame oil over medium in a medium-sized skillet. Add the yellow onion and sauté about 4 minutes before adding the garlic and ginger. Sauté until everything is very fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the ground elk (or turkey) meat and the chicken stock. The chicken stock should sizzle and boil immediately once it hits the skillet…if not, raise the heat slightly to bring it to a boil. Using your wooden spoon, break up the meat and spread it around the skillet so that it browns evenly. Add the garlic powder, salt and hoisin sauce and cook until the meat is done and most of the juices have been absorbed and evaporated, about 5-7 minutes.

To Compile the Lettuce Wraps:

Wash and pat dry the leaves of lettuce. Scoop heaping amounts of meat onto each leaf. Add several pieces of tangerine, a tablespoon of chopped walnuts, several slices of avocado and drizzle desired amount of hoisin sauce on top. Eat like a taco.



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  1. kimberly

    I think I’ve found dinner for tomorrow night! Yum! I’ve got elk (and assorted other 4 legged critters) in the freezer, so this will be wonderful!


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