Lettuce is for more than just salads. Use flat, wide Bibb lettuce to contain your Sizzling Beef Lettuce Wraps. Flavorful ground beef, quick pickled cucumbers, scallions, cilantro, and sriracha mayonnaise are the flavorful fillings in this hands-on dinner. Start by making the Quick Pickled Cucumbers—they can sit in the brine while kids tackle the rest of the recipe. And don’t forget to save the scallion whites for the Regrow Your Vegetables activity (see below).
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What You’ll Need
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 to 2 teaspoons sriracha sauce
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef
2 tablespoons water
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 head Bibb lettuce (8 ounces), leaves separated
1 recipe Quick Pickled Cucumbers
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
4 scallions, dark green parts only, or garlic greens, sliced thin
Science (Chemistry, States of Matter):
In step 5 of the recipe, kids add a soy sauce mixture to the beef in the hot skillet, and cook until most of the liquid evaporates. As they’re preparing that mixture in step 2, ask kids to identify the three states of matter (Answer: solid, liquid, and gas). What states of matter are the ingredients they’re whisking together in this step? (Answer: soy sauce (liquid), brown sugar (solid), garlic (solid), toasted sesame oil (liquid).)
Before they add the soy sauce mixture to the hot skillet in step 5, ask kids to make a prediction: What do you think will happen when we add this mixture to the skillet? Why do you think so?
Then, have kids observe what happens over the course of adding the liquid to beef in the hot skillet and cooking for 3 to 4 minutes. Ask kids: What do you notice about the mixture in the skillet? How does it change as it cooks? What states of matter do you see?
As the soy sauce mixture cooks with the beef, some of the water in the mixture transforms from a liquid into a gas (steam). Kids might have noticed that there is less liquid in the skillet after a few minutes. This is due to evaporation—when matter changes from a liquid to a gas.
As you’re eating your lettuce wraps, ask kids if they can think of any other examples of evaporation. Here are a few to get you started:
- Boiling water on the stove
- A puddle shrinking and drying up after it rains
- Wet clothes drying in the sun (or in a dryer)
Take It Further
Bibb lettuce can be grown in soil, like most plants, but it is also commonly grown hydroponically—that means it’s grown in water instead of soil. How is that possible? Check out the “Food for Thought” section at the bottom of the Sizzling Beef Lettuce Wraps page and this video to learn more about whether we really need soil to grow our food.