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Under 30 Minutes

Mini Asian Meatballs in Lettuce Cups

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 4

Photography: Yuki Sugiura

Source: Martha Stewart Living, March 2015


  • 1/2 cup chopped garlic (from 12 cloves)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped peeled fresh ginger (from a 3-inch piece)
  • 3 scallions, chopped (1/4 cup)
  • 1 pound ground beef (80 percent lean)
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce, such as nam pla
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Bibb lettuce leaves, cilantro sprigs, sliced Thai chiles, and chopped roasted peanuts, for serving


  1. Finely chop together garlic, ginger, and scallions. In a bowl, gently combine garlic mixture with ground beef, fish sauce, and salt. Form mixture into 52 meatballs, each 1 inch in diameter.

  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over high. Working in batches, fry meatballs until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes a batch.

  3. In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise and lime juice. Serve meatballs in lettuce cups, with lime mayonnaise and accompaniments.

Reviews Add a comment

  • MS10280861
    7 SEP, 2015
    Sometimes one should adapt recipe to your own taste, if you don't have enough to make 52, then make how many you can! I've only did 1/2 the amount with 2/3 garlic cloves, added chopped spring onions and coriander to the meatball mix. Replaced Mayonnaise with 0% Fat Thick Greek Yogurt. For the compliment, added rice vermicelli, spring onions, roasted peanuts, sweet Hoisin & Sriracha sauce. Going to do the Vietnamese dipping sauce next time (fish sauce, palm sugar, garlic, chilli, lime and water)
  • Seanmhar
    10 MAR, 2015
    Loved these. I used my smallest scoop to measure out the meat mixture and managed to get 50 miniature balls. I chopped the garlic, ginger, and scallions in the mini food processor to get them minced well.
  • Rooted
    8 MAR, 2015
    Figured 1/2 cup of garlic was a mistake so made it with 1/4 cup instead, which seemed perfect. I mixed the sesame oil right in (by mistake but worked fine) so fried in just a little oil. Do chop everything finely and make the balls pretty small. Still only made 35, not 50. Lightened the sauce with 50%Greek yogurt and thinned it out with water. Added homemade picked ginger vegetables for crunch. Felt it need that sweet vinegar zing. Sweet chili sauce could have worked as well. Delicious.
  • amyhayes
    5 MAR, 2015
    The amount of garlic seems crazy in this recipe. I used 1 head of garlic which yielded about 1/4 cup, which was perfect for my tastebuds. I managed to get 47 meatballs out of the recipe. Remember...they are MINI meatballs. Chop the ingredients finely, otherwise your meatballs won't hold together very well since they are so small. They taste delicious, and I would make these again for sure!
  • girlandapron
    26 FEB, 2015
    So disappointed in this recipe. The 12 cloves of garlic seemed excessive, but I'm not Martha so what do I know? Then I started rolling the meatballs and realized there was no possible way the recipe could yield 52, 1-inch meatballs. I barely got 25. The meatballs turned out so garlicky and salty that we only ate three! Threw out the remaining 22—and approximately $8 worth of grass-fed, free-range, farmers-market beef. Not happy.