Wheatless Wednesday – Shrimp Lettuce Wraps with Coconut Rice & Bok Choy



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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!

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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.

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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

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 head Butter or Boston lettuce (whole leaves)
1 lb raw shrimp (shelled, tail removed)
4  Tbsn olive or avocado oil (divided)
4 cloves garlic, finely minced (divided)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp chili powder
3-4 heads bok choy
1 cup bean sprouts(optional)
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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)


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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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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.

Meatless Monday – Crispy Glazed Tofu and Bok Choy



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Is tofu good or evil?  You may not be aware but the great tofu controversy abounds! I like tofu and have always thought of it as a healthful protein which is highly adaptable in recipes from stir frys to salad dressings.  However, I keep hearing that tofu is bad for you, evil even, so I decided to check into it. Tofu is a low fat, plant based, good source of protein, yet it is a processed food, in that it is no longer in its original bean form.  The beans have been made into milk, curdled, drained and pressed into blocks.  The more I looked into the great tofu question, the more confusing the issue.  Studies and opinions contradict each other-no surprise there.  Remember when coconut oil was supposed to be so terrible for us and to be avoided at all costs, and now is being touted as having health benefits ranging from weight loss and prevention of  heart disease to making your skin soft and pretty.   Andrew Weil, a well respected natural health and wellness expert, still recommends tofu as part of a healthy diet.   Click on his name to see why.   The Truth About Soy,  another seemingly unbiased view about tofu and soy (loads of information but long article) thinks the problem is not with soy but what we  have done with soy (read Genetically Modified-Roundup Ready).  90 – 94% of soy is GMO but most of that is fed to our food animals or made into soy products like baby formula (which is a different problem)  and not made into tofu.  If the label says organic or Non GMO Project it’s not genetically modified-one more reason to buy organic.   So, what did I come away with?  If you like tofu, eat it.  If you don’t like tofu, don’t.

For those that DO like tofu, here is a delicious recipe for Crispy Glazed Tofu with Bok Choy, which I adapted from Eating Well, March/April, 2014.  This is the perfect way to cook bok choy, which is delicately flavored with garlic and ginger.  The tofu is browned in a skillet first and then sautéed in a flavorful plum sauce. The outside is a bit crispy and the inside soft and creamy.   I reduced the amount of ketchup, since I’m not a ketchup lover, to let the other flavors shine, however, if you are a ketchup lover you can double or triple the amount.  I also added red pepper flakes and ginger paste for more of a zing.  Don’t skip the step of draining the tofu, which gets rid of excess water and allows the tofu to absorb the flavors.  Otherwise this is a very simple and quick meal to get on the table.  Serve over rice if desired.


Glazed Tofu and Bok Choy

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 14-ounce package extra-firm water-packed tofu, drained
1/4 cup plum (or hoisin) sauce
1 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine (or dry sherry/rice wine vinegar)
2 teaspoons oil plus 1 tablespoon, divided (I like avocado or coconut oil)
3 scallions, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths and then ribboned
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger, divided
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4-6 baby bok choy, quartered lengthwise
1/4 cup water
1 tsp sesame seeds
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  • Fold a kitchen towel in half and place on a cutting board. Cut tofu in half horizontally, (and then in half again leaving 4 equal pieces) and set on the towel. Put another folded towel and a weight (such as a heavy skillet) on the tofu; let drain for 15 minutes.

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  • Meanwhile, whisk plum sauce, ketchup, soy sauce and rice wine in a small bowl and place near the stove.
  • Cut the pressed tofu into 3/4-inch cubes and place near the stove.
  • Toast sesame seeds in a small pan over medium low heat for a few minutes, or until they turn golden brown.

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  • Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallions, garlic and ginger; cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add bok choy and cook, turning, until bright green, 1 to 2 minutes. Add water, cover and steam until tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer everything to a plate. Wipe the pan dry.

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  • Return the pan to medium-high heat, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and heat until shimmering. Add the tofu in a single layer. Cook, without stirring, until starting to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until brown on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes more. Add the sauce; cook, stirring, until the tofu is well coated, 1 to 2 minutes.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with the bok choy over brown rice, if desired.

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