They’re Back! ( in sing song voice) With graduations and summer approaching, we have gone from being empty nesters to having a full house again. One of the biggest adjustments this time has been for the ‘kids’ because of my meatless diet. They are more likely to cater to my diet now, which is a complete switch from when I used to plan meals around them. Back in the day I had to make many allowances for my picky eaters. Even when my boys were young and ate only five or six things in the world, there was always the odd food, like flying fish roe sushi, that they would eat along with their plain pasta with butter and cucumber circles. I lived in fear that they would figure out what flying fish roe was and then even that would be out. Luckily for me, as they grew older their tastes expanded in the same proportion as their desire for ‘plain food with no sauce, nothing on the plate touching’ diminished. Some of you still may be there but don’t worry, they do eventually grow up and eat real food. I knew we were there when the last one crossed over into
the light ‘salads’. My life was so much easier once I no longer had to hide veggies somewhere on their plates and could just serve them right out in the open, no secret dips or funny mashed potatoes. Whew!
My boys (young men now) still have an affinity for Asian food, and although they still eat flying fish roe sushi, their tastes for the exotic have also expanded. One of our favorite appetizers is Miang Kam (literally meaning Tasty Leaf Wrapped Tidbits) in which several ingredients, usually coconut, ginger, lemon, dried shrimp, peanuts and green onions, among many other interesting bits of food, are hand assembled in a leaf, topped with a yummy sauce, folded over and popped in the mouth where the ingredients combine for a burst of flavor. These Shrimp Lettuce Wraps are loosely inspired by Miang Kam, although I took many liberties with the selection of ingredients. The wraps themselves are reminiscent of the Thai dish with the garnishes of ginger, red chili pepper, toasted coconut, scallion and sliced lemon which provide an explosion of flavor. I added Sriracha to mine since I love spicy but a plum or sweet ginger sauce would be tasty too.
No meal is complete in my book without some kind of veggies, so I sliced up fresh bok choy and sautéed it with a bit of garlic and ginger and added mung bean sprouts, which were in my refrigerator, for good measure. I also made Coconut Rice with brown Jasmine rice, ginger, turmeric and cumin which came out a deliciously lovely yellow (thanks to the Turmeric, which I’m sure you’ve heard is the new wonder spice that provides antioxidants and health benefits to your food along with it’s unique flavor). Both side dishes are great as a base for the shrimp in the lettuce wraps or can be simply served on the side.
Shrimp Lettuce Wraps
GARNISHES:1/3 cup dried unsweetened coconut 1 fresh red chili pepper, minced 1 thumb-size piece of ginger, minced 3 green onions, minced 1 lime cut into small wedges Sriracha Sauce, Plum Sauce or Sesame Chili Oil (Optional)
- If you are using peeled and deveined shrimp, rinse them in cold water and pat them dry. If your shrimp still have the shells, remove the legs, shell and tail or watch this video for instructions on peeling shrimp.
- Dry toast coconut into a pan (preferably cast iron) on medium high heat until golden brown. (1-2 minutes). Remove from pan and let cool
- Wash and dry lettuce leaves and arrange on a platter with toppings.
- Reheat pan and saute bok choy on medium heat in half the oil and garlic for several minutes. Add the bean sprouts, if using, and heat another minute or so. Remove from heat and place in a serving bowl.
- Reheat pan on medium high and add the remaining oil, garlic, chili powder and red pepper flakes. Sautee the shrimp until it turns pink, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. Serve in hot pan or place in a serving bowl.
- Assemble lettuce wraps with coconut rice (see recipe below), bok choy and shrimp topped with your preferred condiments. Or serve rice and bok choy on the side.
Coconut Jasmine Rice
1 cup brown or white jasmine rice
1 can coconut milk
1 cup vegetable stock
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
pinch of saffron threads (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry shredded or flaked coconut, unsweetened
- Heat coconut milk and stock to boil. Add rice and spices and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the water has evaporated. Remove from heat and let sit covered.
- Dry toast the coconut in a pan on medium high heat for one or two minutes until golden brown. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Fluff the rice with a fork. Serve topped with toasted coconut.