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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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)

 

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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.

Wheatless Wednesday – Ginger Shrimp & Sugar Snap Peas

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“What’s for dinner?”  That is the number one question asked when my boys are home.  The second most asked question?  “Have you seen my shoes/my phone/ my keys?”  It can be hard coming up with interesting and delicious meals, day after day.  I can remember my Mom saying “The cooking part is not hard, it’s coming up with the ideas and having all the ingredients that is so exhausting”.    “I hear you, Mom!”  I battle menu fatigue by keeping a pantry stocked with beans, grains and legumes and I try to have a lot of fresh produce around so I have more options without having to order takeout run out to the store with a long grocery list.  I also try to keep my freezer stocked with flash frozen raw shrimp and scallops that thaw quickly.

I often get dinner inspiration from wonderful produce I find at the farmer’s market, or if I’m lucky, right from my own garden.  Yesterday, my late fall gardening efforts were rewarded with  an abundance of juicy, fat sugar snap peas hanging off their vines.  I harvested a giant bowl of them and started to think about the best way to showcase these emerald gems.  Their color is fabulous so I decided to pair them with colorful bell peppers, mushrooms and shrimp for a very spring-like meal.  The beauty of this dish is that it is very simple, only a few really good ingredients, but delicious and pleasing to the eye.

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I never learned to properly stir-fry. I understand the concept of starting with the vegetables that need to cook the longest and ending with those that are fastest cooking.  I just never really mastered the technique of pushing the cooked food up on the sides of the wok.  I’m sure it was operator error but everything always ended up down in the bottom in a big jumble.  I prefer to cook everything separately so I can more easily control the level of cooking, plus each vegetable maintains it’s distinct flavor and character.  I cooked the snow peas and peppers first, then the mushrooms and lastly the shrimp.  Then I threw all the vegetables back in the pot with the shrimp and tossed them together.   I served it over brown rice, but any grain, or even pasta, is a great setting for this dish.  A very simple way to add more flavor to rice, without resorting to heavy sauces,  is to cook it with vegetable broth instead of water and toss in a one inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled but not chopped.  Just remove the ginger before serving.

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Ginger Shrimp and Sugar Snap Peas

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 lb raw extra large shrimp

2 cups fresh sugar snap peas
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
8 crimini or baby bella mushrooms
2 Tbsn grated ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsn coconut or olive oil
dash Creole Seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste

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  • Using a sharp knife, shell and devein shrimp. VIDEO on how to shell and devein shrimp  Wash shrimp and dry with papertowels.
  •  Cut off the stem of the sugar snap peas and remove the string
  • Slice the bell peppers into strips, discarding seeds and pith.
  • Wipe mushrooms clean with a damp papertowel.  Cut off dry end of stem and slice.

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  • Heat 1 tbsn of oil in a heavy pan (I love cast iron) on medium heat.  Saute sugar snap peas and peppers (together or separately)for 4 or 5 minutes  with half the garlic and ginger.  Transfer to a large plate or bowl and leave uncovered (so they don’t continue to cook).

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  • Add a bit more oil if necessary and sauté the mushrooms with the rest of the ginger and garlic, 2 or 3 minutes or until slightly browned on the edges. Transfer to plate with vegetables.

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  • Add a bit more oil if necessary and sauté the shrimp about a minute per side, or until pink and firm.  Sprinkle with creole seasoning or just salt and pepper.
  • Add vegetables back into the pan along with any juice made by the veggies and stir until hot. Add salt and papper to taste.
  • Serve over long grain brown rice, or any grain or pasta

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