Lettuce-Wrapped Tacos
By Chef Tom Fraker




East meets West in this fusion of Vietnamese-style lettuce wraps and tacos

¾ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
8 garlic cloves, minced (about ½ cup), divided
4 fresh Serrano chile peppers, (or 2 Melissa's Hatch Chiles) stems and seeds removed, finely diced (about 3 tablespoons), divided
cups lime juice, divided (about 8 limes)
1½ pounds beef tri-tip
Vegetable oil
cups fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
6 green onions, trimmed and sliced
4 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 red onion, sliced (about 1 cup)
8 butter lettuce leaves or Kool Cabbage leaves
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces, optional)

In a bowl, whisk together brown sugar, soy sauce, oil, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, half of garlic, half of chile, and 1 cup juice. In a large zip-top plastic bag, combine beef and brown sugar mixture. Seal bag; turn bag several times to mix well and coat beef. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.


Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Oil grill rack. Remove beef from zip-top plastic bag; discard marinade. Place beef on grill rack; grill until both sides are marked, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Turn off all but one burner; move beef to cool side of grill rack and partially cover. Grill until desired doneness (125°F for rare, 135°F for medium, or 145°F for well done), about 15 to 25 minutes. Let meat rest 15 minutes. Slice thinly against the grain.

In a bowl, combine remaining half of garlic, remaining half of chile, remaining ¼ cup juice, cilantro, green onions, tomato, and onion.

Top lettuce leaves evenly with beef and chile mixture. Sprinkle evenly with cheese, if desired. Serve.

Simple Swap: Tri-tip comes from the bottom side of the sirloin and can sometimes be hard to find; you can easily substitute beef tenderloin.


Prep Time: 35 min. / Total Time: 8 hr. 40 min.

Serves: 8 (about 1¼ cups)


Recipe from The Great Pepper Cookbook