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Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice: Flavorful Thai Beef Cabbage Cups

Beef and Cabbage

Thai cuisine is known for expertly balancing sour, sweet, salty and bitter flavors. This recipe for Thai beef cabbage cups is no exception. The ground beef mixture, or "larb" in Thai, adds spice and aroma with sour from the lime and sweet from ginger. It all comes together to form a delicious, flavorful and healthy meal. Just make sure to use ground sirloin or a 95 percent lean ground beef to keep saturated fat at a minimum.

Nutritional information

Amount per serving

  • Calories: 292
  • Fat: 16.7 g
  • Saturated fat: 5.4 g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 7.3 g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 2.4 g
  • Protein: 25.4 g
  • Carbohydrate: 10.9 g
  • Fiber: 2.4 g
  • Cholesterol: 74 mg
  • Iron: 3.1 mg
  • Sodium: 516 mg
  • Calcium: 51 mg


  • 2 1/2 teaspoons dark sesame oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced and peeled
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper, crushed
  • 1/2 cup red onion, vertically sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 8 large green cabbage leaves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts, finely chopped
  • 1 lime, cut in wedges


  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add 2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. 
  3. Add ginger and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. 
  4. Add beef; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble.
  5. Combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil, sugar and next 4 ingredients (through pepper) in a large bowl. Add beef mixture, onion, and cilantro; toss well. 
  6. Place 2 cabbage leaves on each of 4 plates; divide beef mixture evenly among leaves. 
  7. Top each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons peanuts.  Serve with lime wedges.

Total preparation time is 27 minutes.

This recipe is courtesy of Karen Levin, Cooking Light (October 2011).

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