Thai Peanut Chicken Lettuce Wraps
We celebrated Bones’ and my birthdays this past weekend. Since I was cooking for an eclectic group of friends (and dietary needs) I really had to think about what recipes to pull out. This lettuce wraps were our one meat dish to help out my more carnivorous friends while bring ing in some flavors that would easily please both those new to Thai cuisine and those who already love it. You see a few years back we celebrated some family occasion at a well know pricey chain chinese american restaurant. They had these lettuce wraps that were so delicious! The crisp cold lettuce struck me as a perfect vehicle for the complex, must eat more flavors I love. I wanted to take that original dish a step further and bring in some Thai influence. Ah Thai food! I don’t see how anybody couldn’t love it!
Have you ever eaten something that was so good that the memory of it haunts you? And you keep remaking it but it’s never quite as good as the memory? For me some of these include my first gelato (in Rome), Thai basil crispy duck at this hole in the wall restaurant down in Maryland, this amazing tempura sushi I had in Mexico, the first softshell crab I ever ate. Those were all amazing but my introduction to Thai peanut sauces has been my undoing, far surpassing the others. I mean the creamy goodness of peanut butter which evokes childhood memories, with the exotic heat sour spicy salt combo that trademarks Thai cuisine – ah, a match made in heaven. I have often tried to recreate that first sauce, I’ve come close but never quite gotten there. You know who has gotten there? Ingrid Beer over at The Cozy Apron. Seriously, her sauce is amazing!
I can claim no credit for her sauce so you’ll just have to skip over to her recipe for it. The only alteration I made was to omit the water as I felt the sauce would be too thin if I had added it. I did however make my lettuce wraps differently.
Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps
- One recipe of Sweetly Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce
- 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 4 large cloves of garlic
- 1 1/2 in ginger root
- Sesame oil or Asian stir fry oil
- 1 can water chestnuts
- 4-5 large white mushrooms
- 1/2 large onion
- 2 T low sodium soy sauce
- 2 T brown sugar
- 1 T rice vinegar
- 1 lime
- 3/4 C chopped peanuts
- 1 bunch of cilantro
- 4 carrots, julienne
- Romaine lettuce
1. Make the Sweetly Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce, letting it sit while you make everything else will make the flavor better.
2. In a cool wok add a couple of tablespoons of sesame or asian stir fry oil. Grate 1 large clove of garlic and 1/2 inch of ginger and add them to the oil. Start heating the oil until it gets nice and fragrant. Then turn the heat up to high and when it’s hot, add the chicken thighs and stir fry them until they are thoroughly cooked. Turn off the heat and pull the chicken out to let it cool.
3. While the chicken cools you’ll want to prep the other vegetables. Drain than chop the water chestnuts. Then chop the mushrooms and onions. I just tossed all the chopped ingredients into the same bowl. Add to that 1 inch of grated ginger, the remaining 3 garlic cloves grated, and 1/4 C of finely chopped peanuts (I used my mini food processor).
4. Make the stir fry sauce – in a small bowl mix together the soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar. Add the zest of the whole lime and the juice from half of the lime to the mixture. (If you’re lime isn’t very juicy add both halves.)
5. Finely chop the chicken and add it to the chopped ingredients. Heat up the wok to high adding a little more oil if necessary.
6. Add the chicken and chopped ingredients to the hot oil and stir fry till onions are slightly cooked. Then add the stir fry sauce and cook until heated thoroughly.
7. Serve up the chicken with julienne carrots, chopped peanuts, chopped cilantro, and the Sweetly Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce.
8. Stack it all up on some crisp romaine and enjoy!