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Parents have been debating Battle Hymn’s assertion that in order to raise highly achieving kids, like many Chinese-Americans, we need to brow beat them (the kids, not the Chinese-Americans) into working hard and prevent them from participating in anything social or extracurricular unless it’s learning to play piano or violin. And, most harsh, was the author’s claim that American parents are, more or less, wimps. Oh yeah, well may I remind you, that we have Mommy Dearest and Kate Gosselin.

cartoon courtesy of The Atlantic

In honor of Tiger Mother, we offer you an asian favorite that won’t require you to call your kids “garbage” or “pathetic” to make them eat it. This is another one of those meals that is best with family participation for the final assembly. Something magical happens when kids are involved in the cooking process, they eat more good food. And, it’s a measure of food play that we at crunchtime encourage, rather than food fights. Note: we don’t encourage playing with Cheetos, fruit roll ups, or a McGriddle, just real food (just because it’s eaten, doesn’t make it food).

Shrimp lettuce wraps could just as easily be chicken, scallops, pork, fish,squirrel, or tofu wraps. Asian seasonings and a good balance of vegetables make this one pot meal a breeze and cook up fast over higher heat.

Prep all the ingredients in advance and dinner will be on the table before you can say “it’s a wrap.”

Where do y’all come out on this, Tiger Mother or Pussycat Parent?

shrimp lettuce wraps, fit for a tiger mother

Preptime: 15 minutes Servings 4-6

Cooktime: 5 minutes

1 lb uncooked shrimp, peeled, deveined and coarsely chopped

1/2 c diced celery

1/4 c diced red pepper

1/4 c diced water chestnuts

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 t fresh ginger, finely chopped

1 t canola or peanut oil (oils that can handle higher temperatures)

1 T hoisin sauce (jar or homemade below and it’s optional)

1 T light soy sauce

1 T rice wine vinegar

8 large leaves, Boston lettuce

2 T chopped peanuts (dry roasted or plain)

spicy peanut sauce (optional)

Preptime: (up to one day in advance): Chop vegetables, aromatics, and peanuts. Clean, chop, and blot dry shrimp. Wash lettuce leaves. Combine hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar.

Cooktime: 7-8 minutes


  1. Heat oil in wok or medium size pan on medium-high heat.
  2. Add shrimp and stir fry for 2 minutes or until the shrimp becomes pink and opaque.
  3. Remove shrimp onto a plate and reserve it.
  4. Add vegetables and aromatics to the pan and stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes until they are slightly tender.
  5. Add the shrimp back into the pan with the vegetables. Also, add in the sauce mixture. Cook another 2 minutes until the sauce is heated.
  6. Place into a serving bowl and top with peanuts.

Servetime: Serve the shrimp mixture in a bowl alongside the lettuce leaves for diners to assemble themselves or spoon the mixture into the leaves for individual servings. Serve with spicy peanut sauce. Serve will brown or jasmine rice and sliced fruit.

CooksNotes: If you make the spicy peanut sauce, I don’t believe you need to use hoisin sauce. I made my own from the perfect pantry, but I preferred the overall taste using the spicy peanut sauce.

Homemade Hoisin Sauce

4 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons black bean paste or peanut butter

1 tablespoon honey or molasses

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons sesame oil

20 drops hot sauce

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients.

.CooksOptions: Use chicken instead of shrimp. Two chicken breasts diced into 1/2 inch cubes and cook 3-4 minutes until cooked through. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the pieces.

recipe adapted from south beach diet cookbook by your friends at crunchtimefood.com


  1. Linda Abrams says Jan 24th 2011 3:18 pm

    While neither a Tiger Mother or a Pussycat Parent but a Harried Married (someone who wants to cook in a hurry) – i think this recipe is perfect for my January diet and am relieved to learn that the cholesterol in shrimp isn’t so bad after all. One question, when you say that aromatics can be chopped the day before – do you mean that the garlic and ginger are just as good if chopped in advance and left in the fridge?

    • Sherri says Jan 24th 2011 5:15 pm

      Hi Linda, Harried Married – too funny. Thanks for the question. All of the ingredients that require chopping – shrimp, vegetables, aromatics (ginger and garlic) can be chopped one day in advance if that helps you keep ‘crunchtime’ manageable. But to your point, the ingredients will taste slightly, ever so slightly, fresher and more intense when you chop them immediately before cooking.

  2. Leslie says Feb 10th 2011 4:26 pm

    We made these with chicken and although my kids were almost in tears at the thought of a lettuce “sandwich” they loved, loved them! Alexia said it was her favorite meal ever. Two wraps each.

    I am so happy to get them to try these. Such a healthy meal and they don’t even know it!


    • Sherri says Feb 10th 2011 5:16 pm

      Awesome! Glad to hear the chicken worked out. Think that’s next on my list.

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