Sesame-Ginger Turkey and Asparagus Bowls

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Sometimes you want a rice bowl, sometimes you want a lettuce wrap. Sometimes you think you want a lettuce wrap, but then you wind up hungry an hour later, and wish you’d had a little rice with dinner.

But I’ve solved that issue! It’s both a rice bowl, and it gives you the option to make a lettuce wrap. I usually wind up packing the lettuce wraps with rice and the turkey mixture, absolutely delicious all together.

asian turkey, lettuce, and rice bowls (2 of 10).jpg

This recipe is inspired by Asian flavors, but doesn’t fit the archetype of one particular country’s cuisine. Ginger has been used in ancient Chinese medicine for over 5,000 (!!!) years to aid with all kinds of ailments, particularly digestion. Soy sauce similarly has it’s roots in ancient China, but is now used widely all over Asia. For more information on soy sauce, I highly, highly recommend episode 2 “Salt” of Samin Nosrat’s Netflix series “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. It is beautifully shot, and so informative!

Ground meat lettuce wraps don’t typically have asparagus in them, since asparagus isn’t native to Asia, but I wanted to put a seasonal, summer-y spin on things, so I threw some in. It’s fantastic, plus it adds an extra pound or so of vegetables to your dinner. Win, win!

Sesame-Ginger Turkey and Asparagus Bowls

Servings 4 people

Ingredients

Sesame Rice

  • 1 1/2 cups sushi rice, rinsed
  • 1 3/4 cups water1
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Sesame-Ginger Turkey and Asparagus

  • 1 tbsp sesame oil 
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 -inch piece ginger, peeled and grated (or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger)
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1 pound ground turkey (preferably dark meat)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound), 1/4-inch chopped
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp sriracha or sambal oelek
  • 1 tbsp Asian fish sauce
  • 1/3 cup cup basil (Thai basil, if you can find it!), roughly chopped
  • 1 head of butter lettuce or 2 heads little gem lettuce (pictured), leaves pulled apart
  • Optional: shredded toasted coconut

Instructions

  • First, get your rice started. Combine the rice and water in a small pot or saucepan. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce to low and cover. Cook for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat and leave the pot covered for 10 more minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, and 1 teaspoon salt.
  • Meanwhile, cook the Sesame-Ginger Turkey and Asparagus. Warm 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add all but 3 tablespoons of scallions and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until softened. Reserve the 3 tablespoons of scallions for garnish. Add ginger, and garlic and cook for another 30 to 45 seconds.
  • Add 1 pound ground turkey and turn the heat up to medium-high. Season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, breaking it apart with a spoon into as small of pieces as possible. There will be a lot of liquid in the skillet as the turkey releases its moisture, keep cooking until almost all of this liquid evaporates. 
  • Add 1 bunch of 1/4-inch chopped asparagus when there’s still about 1 tablespoon of liquid left in the skillet. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until all liquid has evaporated.
  • Stir in 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 3 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon sriracha, and 1 tablespoon fish sauce and stir until much of it has been absorbed, about 1 minute. There will still be some sauce in the bottom of the skillet, that’s a good thing! We want our bowls saucy.
  • Turn off the heat and stir in the basil.
  • Divide the rice, lettuce, and turkey mixture between 4 bowls. Spoon the sauce from the skillet over top. Garnish with scallions, more sesame seeds, and shredded coconut if desired.

Sesame Rice

  • 1 1/2 cups sushi rice, rinsed
  • 1 3/4 cups water1
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Sesame-Ginger Turkey and Asparagus

  • 1 tbsp sesame oil 
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 -inch piece ginger, peeled and grated (or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger)
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1 pound ground turkey (preferably dark meat)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound), 1/4-inch chopped
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp sriracha or sambal oelek
  • 1 tbsp Asian fish sauce
  • 1/3 cup cup basil (Thai basil, if you can find it!), roughly chopped
  • 1 head of butter lettuce or 2 heads little gem lettuce (pictured), leaves pulled apart
  • Optional: shredded toasted coconut
Author: Caroline Chambers

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  1. How would you suggest swapping in cauliflower rice?

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