If two cusines ever fused brilliantly, they would have to be Thai and Mexican. So many ingredients are shared between these distinct styles of cooking, so bringing them together seems almost inevitable. That’s what I did with these delightfully sweet and spicy lettuce wraps.
Now, I have to give credit where it is due. The inspiration for this recipe came from dinner the other night at BJ’s Brewhouse. It was my first time eating there, and I was lucky enough to pick what I am sure must be the best thing on their menu, the Thai Lettuce Wraps. Of course, me being me, I sat there thinking, “If I made these at home, I would add…” A few nights later, my newest creation was born.
This meal is mostly raw. Only the shrimps are stir-fried in a wok, so it is a perfect dish for warm summer evenings when you don’t want to heat up the house. Plus, this is an adjustable recipe. You can add something in or take something out and still get amazing results. This whole satisfying meal without any dipping sauce comes in well under 300 calories, so grab an extra one!
8 full leaves of living butter lettuce (also known as Boston Bibb)
1/2 cup fresh jicama, peeled and chopped bitesize
1/2 cup baby bok choy stems (save the leaves for a salad)
1//2 cup shredded cabbage or cole slaw mix
1/2 cup fresh or canned bean sprouts
1/2 cup Ataulfo mango, cubed
1/4 cup cucumber, diced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup unsalted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1 tsp. diced fresh jalapeno (use more or less according to taste)
1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1. tbsp. mirin (Japanese rice wine)
juice of 1 lime (optional)
Ingredients for stir-frying:
1 lb. medium uncooked shrimp
1/4 cup fresh pineapple, cubed or sliced thin
2 tbsp. grated coconut
2 tbsp. premium tequila (I used Cazadores)
1 tbsp. coconut oil
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 to 2 tsp. dry New Mexico chile powder (to taste)
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 fresh clove garlic, minced
1. Chop all raw ingredients and place them in a large glass bowl. Add the rice wine vinegar, the mirin and the lime juice and let marinate while you prepare the shrimp.
2. Peel and devein shrimp. Place them in a bowl and sprinkle them with New Mexico chile powder. Mix until all the shrimp are evenly coated.
3. Heat the coconut and sesame oils in a wok or deep skillet over medium high heat. Add the shrimp and pineapple and stir constantly. When the shrimp begins to turn pink, add the coconut and tequila. Keep stirring to prevent sticking or overcooking. Cook until most of the moisture has been absorbed by the shrimp, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
4. On a plate, arrange 3 or 4 full butter lettuce leaves so that they curve up like cups. In each leaf, place 2-3 large spoonfuls of raw chopped veggies. Place 4-5 cooked shrimp on top of each leaf.
Notes: I used no soy sauce in this dish because I want to keep the sodium level down. Many recipes for similar dishes call for fish sauce, and it has something like 1800 mg. of sodium per serving. Yikes!
Really, I find no need for a dipping sauce because these wraps are already amazing, but if you love dipping, try some hot Salsa Taquera, or for a sweeter option, dip into some Thai sweet chile sauce. If you’re really daring, mix them together.