Crispy Sweet Potato Pancake Lettuce Wraps

If you can't find white sweet potatoes, swap for orange-fleshed sweet potatoes.

This recipe is easily doubled to feed a larger crowd or serve as a meal.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 12 minutes
  • Yield: 8 pancakes; serves 4 as a snack

Ingredients

For the nuoc cham dipping sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup warm water, or as needed
  • 1 teaspoon unseasoned Japanese rice vinegar (optional)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 Thai or serrano chile, thinly sliced (keep seeds intact); or 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons chile garlic sauce or sambal oelek (optional, good for heat)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (optional, good for pungency)

For the pancakes and garnishes:

  • 3 cups (12 ounces) grated white sweet potato (buy a one-pounder for easy prep)
  • 1 cup (3 1/2 ounces) grated carrot (start from a 4 ounce carrot)
  • Rounded 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons lightly packed, finely chopped green onion (green and white parts)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons white or brown rice flour, such as Bob’s Red Mill (or all-purpose flour)
  • 1 large egg
  • About 1/3 cup canola or other neutral oil
  • Leaves from 1 head of soft-leaf lettuce, such as butter, Boston, or red leaf
  • 6 to 8 bushy sprigs mint, basil, or other soft leaf herbs
  • 10 to 12 sprigs cilantro

Method

1 Make the nuoc cham sauce: Combine 1 tablespoon of the sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons of the lime juice, and the water.

Taste the limeade, and if needed, add the remaining 1 teaspoon sugar and/or 1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice; dilute with water if you go too far. If there’s an unpleasant tart-bitter edge, add the vinegar to rounds things out.

Finally, add the fish sauce to create a bold, forward finish. If desired, add the chiles and/or garlic. Set aside. You should have 1/2 cup of nuoc cham, and this can be made and refrigerated up to 8 hours before serving.

How to Make Lettuce Wraps with Sweet Potatoes make the nuoc cham

2 Salt and squeeze out the sweet potato and carrot: In a large bowl, combine the grated sweet potato, carrot, and salt. Massage with both hands until wet and squishy, about 1 minute. Transfer the grated veggies to a piece of muslin or a non-terry dish towel, and wrap the veggies in the towel. Standing over the sink, firmly squeeze and twist to expel moisture.

Dump the veggies into a dry bowl.

Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps Vegetarian salt the veggies Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps with Sweet Potatoes squeeze out the excess water

3 Assemble the pancake batter: Add the green onion, mixing with a fork to distribute well. Mix in the pepper, fish sauce, cornstarch, and rice flour. Add the egg, break it up with a fork, and mix well. Press the mixture down to compact it, and then divide into 8 portions like a pie, using a 1/4  cup measuring scoop.

How to Make Lettuce Wraps with Sweet Potatoes add the egg and combine

4 Fry the pancakes: Warm a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, then add about 2 tablespoons of oil to film the bottom. Fry in two batches, 4 pancakes at a time.

For each one, use a fork and your fingers to scoop up the 1/4 cup portions of the potato-and-carrot mixture (one wedge of the "pie"). Deposit into the skillet, spreading and flattening the mixture with the measuring cup bottom and fork to make a 3 1/2-inch-wide pancake (mine often look like Australia).

Fry for about 3 minutes, until bits of the fringe-like edges are richly brown and crisp. Drizzle 2 to 3 teaspoons of oil on top of the pancakes, then wield 2 spatulas to carefully flip each one over. (The pancakes are delicate, so 2 spatulas are super handy.)

Fry for about 3 minutes longer, until crisp and brown underneath. Cool on a rack. Fry the remaining batch.

How to Make Lettuce Wraps Vegetarian fry the pancakes

5 Assemble and serve the lettuce wraps: Serve with the lettuce, herbs, and sauce. Invite guests to build their own lettuce leaf wraps containing a piece of pancake (pass scissors or use forks/fingers to break up the pancakes into smaller pieces suitable for wrapping up), with 2 or 3 herb leaves and/or torn cilantro sprigs. Dip in the sauce and eat. These are really best the day they are made.

Asian Lettuce Wraps with Sweet Potatoes

Click on the comments you'd like to print with your recipe. Grayed out comments will not print.

Comments

  • Danielle

    The sauce combined with the pancakes were awesome. Grating is a little bit of a pain but otherwise it is a simple dish. Great for a change of pace. We fried an egg to put on top which was delish.

    xxxxxyyyyy