Archive for the ‘Lettuce’ Category

* Chiang Mai Laab Lettuce Cups

Posted on September 27th, 2008 by Linda. Filed under Appetizer, Cilantro, Course, Cuisine, Fish sauce, Kaffir lime leaves, Lemongrass, Lettuce, Mint, Pork, Salads, Thai, Thai Chilis.

This Northern Thai dish originates from Laos and is sometimes spelt “larb”.  Even tho’ it is served at room temperature, the heat from the Thai red chili will make you break a sweat.  This spicy sharpness together with the acid from the lime juice, the umami of the fish sauce, the essential oils from the mint and zest are balanced with the smokiness of the rice flour to create a flavor explosion moment.  Laab is typically served with sticky rice but I like to serve the laab on endives to make a tasty appetizer.  Using no oil in the cooking, this is as low fat as Asian foods go!

Chef’s tip: If you have the patience, pinch off the meat a little at a time as you add to the pot, instead of dunking the whole pound in all at once.  This will ensure every bit of meat surface gets browned.


1 lb ground lean chicken or pork or turkey
2 Tablespoons fish sauce
2 Tablespoons lime juice

1 Tablespoon roasted rice powder (from 3 tablespoon glutinous rice)

1 stalk lemon grass, white part only, very finely sliced
3 kaffir lime leaves, chiffonade
4 Thai chilies, deseeded and chopped finely
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 sprig green onions, sliced
3 Tablespoons mint leaves, chopped

Juice from 1 lime
1 Tablespoon lime zest
1 Tablespoon fish sauce
½ teaspoon brown sugar

Lettuce cups:
1 head of iceberg lettuce or 2 endives
Cilantro or mint sprigs for garnish

Preparing the meat:
1.    Heat a non stick pan under high heat, add the ground meat, 2 Tablespoons each of fish sauce and lime juice.  Cook 10 minutes until the meat is cooked through, while stirring constantly.  Transfer the meat to a large bowl.  Drain off excess liquids.
Preparing the toasted rice:
2.    Dry-fry the glutinous rice (without any oil) under medium heat till golden brown.
3.    Remove, let cool slightly and grind into a powder with a spice mill, or a mortar and pestle.  Set aside.
Preparing the herb and dressing:
4.    Slice lemongrass, kaffir, and chilies.   Zest lime.  Mince green onions, cilantro and mint.  Set aside.
5.    Mix dressing ingredients together.
Preparing the lettuce cups
6.    Remove the iceberg lettuce leaves one at a time and trim into little cups.  If using endives, leave leaves whole.  You may want to use the heart of the lettuce.
7.    Pour the rice powder, herb mixture and dressing into the cooked meat and toss to combine.  Let sit for 10 minutes for the flavor to come together.
8.    Scoop 2 tablespoons of the chicken into the lettuce cups and garnish with a sprig of cilantro or mint.

Serves: 6

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* Jicama & Grapefruit Fresh Springrolls

Posted on September 8th, 2008 by Linda. Filed under Appetizer, Cilantro, Cucumber, Green onions, Lettuce, Rau Ram, Shallots, Vegetarian, Vietnamese.

Putting in more Vietnamese into Slanted Door’s Grapefruit and Jicama Salad, I have adapted the recipe and served the salad as a springroll. The tantalizing sweet, sour, salty and spiciness of the springroll will surely tintilate your tastebuds. The chewiness of the rice paper lets you savor the flavors slowly, as each flavor unfolds from the various herbs as you chew. And it’s a beautiful dish, too. It’s like serving a Garden of Eden, wrapped in rice paper.

Chef’s tip: If you have to prep this ahead, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and do not place into the fridge. The coldness will turn the rice paper hard.


Candied nuts:
1/2 cup golden brown sugar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 cups pecan halves
Nonstick vegetable oil spray and foil

Shallot oil:
1 shallot, sliced finely
1/3 cup of oil

Nuoc Cham Sauce:
1 tablespoon Sri Racha sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 Tablespoons sugar
5 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
4 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons fish sauce (sub with soy sauce for vegetarian option)
2 Tablespoons shallot oil (see above)

2 oz rice vermicelli
1/4 head of red cabbage, thinly julienned, makes 2 cups
1/4 head of napa cabbage, thinly julienned, makes 2 cups
1 large carrot, thinly julienned
1/2 small jicama, thinly julienned, makes 2 cups
1 large ruby grapefruit, peeled, membranes and seeds removed
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chiffonade
1/2 cup scallions, chiffonade
1/2 cup Rau Ram – polygonum (Vietnamese Mint), chiffonade
1/2 cup of Thai basil leaves, chiffonade
5 small pieces of butter lettuce, ribbed and tear into 2×3 inch pieces
1/2 cup mint leaves, whole

20 round 8-inch Vietnamese rice paper


Prepare the candied nuts:
1. In heavy medium skillet over medium heat, bring sugar, olive oil and vinegar to boil until sugar melts and syrup bubbles, about 3 minutes.
2. Mix in pecans and stir until nuts are toasted and syrup coats nuts evenly, about 7 minutes. Turn nuts out onto greased foil. Using fork, separate nuts and cool completely till harden. Break nuts into small pieces.
Prepare the sauce:
3. Make the shallot oil by frying sliced shallots in 1/3 cup of canola oil till golden brown.
4. In a small bowl, whisk Sri Racha, garlic, sugar, rice wine vinegar, water, fish sauce and 2 tablespoons of shallot oil together. Set aside.
Prepare the filling:
5. Bring salted water to boil. Drop rice vermicelli in, bring to boil again. Remove from heat, cover and soak for 15 minutes. Drain and fluff.
Prepare the slaw:
6. Using a food processor, mandoline or a sharp knife, shred both cabbages (2mm); julienne jicama and carrots finely into shoestring strips.
7. Place vegetables in separate bowls and toss with a tablespoon of Nuoc Cham each.
8. Peel grapefruit, remove skin, pith, membranes and seeds.
9. Chiffonade cilantro, scallion, Rau Ram and Thai basil and toss together to mix.
10. Remove ribs from butter lettuce and tear into 2 x 3 inch pieces each.
Assemble the springrolls:
11. Line a baking sheet with a damp tea towel and have another damp towel ready to cover the rolls. Line a cutting board with a third damp towel. Have all spring roll filling and vegetables mise en place.
12. Fill a large sauté pan with 2 inches of water. Add 1 spoon of sugar, bring water to a boil, then turn heat to very low. Working with one sheet of rice paper at a time, dip half the disc into the hot water, holding one corner with your fingers or a pair of chopsticks. Let it sit for about 5 seconds. Quickly dip the other half and remove and spread out flat on lined cutting board.
13. Lay a leaf of lettuce over the bottom third of the rice paper. Lay a thin layer of rice noodles on top of the lettuce. Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon of grapefruit sacs, 1 tablespoon herb mixture and 1 tablespoon of pecans. Lay a small amount of carrots, red and napa cabbage on top of the lettuce. Place 3 pieces of jicama sticks and press together to compact. Lay 2 pieces of mint down on the middle third of the rice paper.
14. Fold the left and right side over the filling. Holding the sides in place, fold the bottom flap up and roll the roll up into a tight cylinder. You want the mint to show through the wrapping. Lay the rolls flap side down on the moistened towel and cover with another moist towel until ready to serve (or cover tightly with Saran wrap). Patch any broken areas with small pieces of soaked, rice paper.
15. Serve: Cut the spring rolls into half crosswise and serve with nuoc cham dipping sauce.

Makes: 40 pieces.

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* Chicken and Lap Cheung Lettuce Cups

Posted on September 7th, 2008 by Linda. Filed under Appetizer, Cantonese, Chicken, Chinese, Chinese sausages, Dim Sum, Lettuce.

There are so many versions of Chicken in Lettuce Cups. This recipe features the classic trinity of chicken, lap cheung (Chinese wax sausages) and dried shrimp.

Chef’s tip: If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, get the Wycen lap cheung (Washington/Stockton or Clement/7th) . They make their sausages locally and offer extra lean 100% chicken sausages.

½ cup pine nuts, toasted
2 heads iceberg lettuce

1 lb boneless skinless chicken thigh, trimmed of fat and minced
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon sesame oil
½ Tablespoon canola oil

2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 Chinese wax sausage, diced small, ½ inch cubes
1 Tablespoon dried shrimps, soaked, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon ginger, grated
2 Tablespoon Shaoxing wine
¼ cup water
10 fresh shiitake mushrooms, diced small, ¼ inch cubes
3 oz waterchestnuts, drained and diced finely,1/8 inch cubes
2 Tablespoons green onions, green and white parts, chopped
2 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 Tablespoon sesame oil

¼ cup hoisin sauce
Cilantro sprigs

Preparing the lettuce
1.    Toast the pine nuts, set aside.
2.    Using a paring knife, cut around the stem core of the lettuce, then carefully separate the lettuce leaves.  Reserve outer leaves for other use.  Use a knife or scissors to cut the inner leaves into rough 4 inch rounds.  Pat leaves dry.  Make 30 cups. Chill.
Preparing the filling
3.    In a food processor, pulse the chicken until it is chopped roughly (or use a cleaver and cutting board to mince).  Marinate the chicken with cornstarch, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil and oil.
4.    In the wok, heat ½ Tablespoon oil, fry the Chinese sausage until it has rendered its fat.  Push to the side of the wok or if you are not using a wok, remove to a prep plate. Next, add another ½ Tablespoon oil, fry the dried shrimp with the remaining garlic and ginger and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
5.    Then add the chicken, drizzle the Shaoxing wine around the sides of the wok and stir-fry till it becomes brown and caramelized.  Push chicken to the side of the wok or remove from the pan.
6.    Next, add a little oil if needed, the chopped shiitake, sauté until mushroom is tender, then add toss back the chicken and sausage.
7.    Add ¼ cup of water to the wok.  Stir until the sauce is thick and glazes the meat.
8.    Add the waterchestnut.  Remove from heat, stir in the chopped green onions and cilantro.  Finish with the sesame oil.
9.    Brush each lettuce cup with hoisin sauce.
10.    Spoon a heaping Tablespoon of the chicken mixture into the prepared lettuce leaves and sprinkle with pine nuts. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro.

Serves: 30 cups

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