PF Chang-Inspired Ground Pork Lettuce Cups

PF Chang-Inspired Ground Pork Lettuce Cups

Are you addicted to certain restaurant specialties? Aren’t we all! The first time I tasted P.F. Chang’s Pork Lettuce Wraps, my eyes literally rolled back in my head! So we came up with a copycat version of one of our favorite restaurant finds. These PF Chang-Inspired Ground Pork Lettuce cups are everything and more. Juicy crumbles of ground pork are simmered in tasty ginger and garlic, then bathed in spicy hoisin and soy sauces.

Finish them off with crunchy diced water chestnuts, minced spring onions, then a dollop of toasty sesame oil. Served on individual leaves of butter lettuce, these lettuce cups are as cute as they are delicious. You can eat these lettuce cups hot or at room temperature. Our PF Chang-Inspired Ground Pork Lettuce Cups makes for a fabulous lunch, appetizer, or light dinner.

P.F. Chang’s original version features ground chicken, but we prefer ground pork. It’s inexpensive and usually easier to find in the grocery store. But feel free to use ground chicken, turkey, or even ground beef! All would be delicious.

To make things even better, this dish comes together in under 30 minutes if you have the right ingredients on hand. And you should always have these ingredients in your pantry if you’re a fan of Asian food (and who is not??)

Here’s our list of the 11 Essential Ingredients for Chinese Cooking:

  1. Soy Sauce: Soy sauce is the salt of Chinese cooking and absolutely essential. When Most recipes call for the soy sauce, they’re talking about the “light” soy sauce which is a golden amber color. The Kikkoman brand is fine for most recipes. Your local Asian grocery (and Amazon) will carry authentic brands that you should definitely try! We suggest Lee Kum Kee Premium Soy Sauce or Pearl River Bridge Superior Soy Sauce. Dark soy sauce adds richer, more concentrated flavor notes and is a “must” for stir-fries. Lee Kum Kee and Pearl River Bridge make great dark soy sauces as well and are available on Amazon or at your local Asian grocery.
  2. Toasted Sesame Oil: Make sure you get the toasted sesame oil as some brands are untoasted and not anywhere near as flavorful. This is a strongly flavored oil, with a pungent nutty fragrance and taste. It’s used as finishing oil for flavoring at the end of cooking. It has a low burn point and should not be used for the actual cooking! (P.S. If a recipe calls for “sesame oil” without specifying if it’s toasted or untoasted, it’s likely calling for the toasted oil. Check how it’s used in the recipe!)
  3. Hoisin Sauce: This is a sweet bean sauce made from wheat flour, sugar, salt and fermented yellow soybeans seasoned with garlic and chilis. We use it in almost all our Asian dishes, and love it in a dipping sauce! Try the Lee Kum Kee Hoisin Sauce! You can also use any supermarket brand you prefer.
  4. Shaoxing Wine: Shaoxing Wine is quite rich (NOT to be confused with rice vinegar or rice wine vinegar and used often in Chinese cooking. It may be hard to find in your local grocery, so by all means order it on line or pick up at an Asian market. We like the Soeos Shaoxing Cooking Wine brand. In a pinch, you can substitute dry sherry or marsala wine, mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine), or sake (dry Japanese rice wine).
  5. Rice Vinegar: Also known as rice wine vinegar. This is a lovely vinegar, slightly sweeter, milder, and more delicate than ordinary distilled white vinegar. Do not confuse it with rice wine, which is not a vinegar. We like the Marukan Genuine Brewed brand of rice vinegar, but there are many good brands on the market. Rice vinegar is used frequently in sauces and marinades. We love it in salad dressings and for pickling vegetables. “Seasoned” rice vinegar is simply plain or natural rice vinegar with sugar and salt (or MSG) added for extra flavor.
  6. Oyster Sauce: Boiled oysters, soy sauce, garlic & other seasonings make up this sauce. It packs a huge umami punch and has been called the “King of Chinese sauces.” (It doesn’t actually taste like oysters at all). We like Lee Kum Kee Panda Brand Oyster Sauce.
  7. Chili Garlic Sauce: We love this stuff for adding a kick of spicy heat to dishes. The Vietnamese brands are fabulous, try any one of them. Sriracha is a chili garlic sauce and you cannot go wrong with Huy Fong Foods Rooster brand.
  8. Cornstarch: This is a traditional thickening agent for sauces. You can substitute flour, arrowroot, potato starch or tapioca. It’s also used in a marinade for proteins before cooking to give them a crunchy texture.
  9. Canned bamboo shoots and water chestnuts: It’s nice to have fresh bean sprouts on hand, but in a pinch, you can always use these items for extra crunch and flavor.
  10. Chinese 5-spice powderA fragrant mixture of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper and fennel seeds that you’ll find in the bottled spice section of your grocery. Don’t buy the cheap brand!
  11. Fresh garlic, ginger, and green onions: These fresh items are the Holy Trinity of Chinese cooking and form the base for most savory Chinese recipes. We always keep them on hand. 

PF Chang-Inspired Ground Pork Lettuce Cups

March 7, 2020
: 4
: 15 min
: 15 min
: 30 min
: Easy


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-pound ground pork
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2-3 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
  • 1 (8-ounce) can whole water chestnuts, drained and diced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced, white and green parts
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 head butter lettuce
  • Step 1 Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add ground pork and sauté until browned, about 3-5 minutes. Add a very light sprinkle of kosher salt.
  • Step 2 Stir in onion and sauté until onions are translucent, about 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté an additional minute.
  • Step 3 Add the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and chili garlic sauce and continue cooking another 2 minutes.
  • Step 4 Stir in diced water chestnuts and green onions and cook about 1-2 minutes
  • Step 5 season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Step 6 Drizzle in the teaspoon of toasted sesame oil and stir to incorporate.
  • Step 7 To serve, spoon several tablespoons of the pork mixture into the center of a lettuce leaf.