Lettuce Cups with Smoked Venison

Wrapping food in lettuce wraps has made a big impression on the dining public. These are cool and crisp on the outside and warm, crunchy, and smoky on the inside.

The best way to serve lettuce cups is family style. Stack lettuce leaves, filling, and condiments like Asian hot sauce, hoisin sauce, and soy sauce on the side.

Making intact lettuce cups out of a head of iceberg lettuce can be tricky. When choosing your lettuce at the store, buy the lightest, loosest head that can be broken apart easily without tearing the leaves. Allow one head of lettuce for 2 or 3 people.

Start by removing the stem end. Remove the lettuce leaves from the thicker stem end, and work them into separate leaves. For company, I trim the ragged leaves into symmetrical same-sized cups. Save the trim and cores for salad. Most people can eat 4 to 6 filled cups. 

See also: Susie’s Elk Lettuce Wraps or try these Spicy Dove Lettuce Wraps

Lettuce Cups with Smoked Venison

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: big game recipes, venison recipes
Servings: 6 servings


  • 2 pounds venison steaks trimmed
  • ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • ½ tsp Asian sesame oil


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp Asian sesame oil
  • ½ cup carrot peeled and finely diced
  • ½ cup celery stalk finely diced
  • 3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp orange juice concentrate
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 4 green onions minced
  • ½ cup water chestnuts diced
  • 2 tbsp pickled ginger minced (or substitute fresh peeled and minced ginger root)
  • 1 ½ cups cooked rice white or brown
  • 3 to 4 heads iceberg lettuce look for heads that are loose, not firm and tight
  • Sriracha sauce
  • Hoisin sauce


  • Place meat in a container or a zipper-lock bag. Add soy sauce and sesame oil, and toss to coat. Refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours. Remove meat from refrigerator, and let rest at room temperature for 20 minutes. Place in a 250-degree smoker for 25 minutes or until meat is a medium-rare (about 135 degrees). Cool and chop meat into pea-sized pieces.
  • Heat olive oil and sesame oil in a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrot and celery, and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add chopped venison, soy sauce, and next 6 ingredients. Cook until warmed through. Transfer mixture into 4 bowls, and serve with lettuce cups.
  • To assemble the lettuce cups, spread a very thin layer of hoisin sauce on the center of a lettuce cup. Spoon a few tablespoons of the meat mixture into the lettuce, and add a drop or two of Sriracha for spicy heat. Hold the lettuce cup firmly, and eat from one end to the other.

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