I recently went to an Asian market in Salt Lake City and it was so inspiring. There were so many sauces, noodles and hard-to-find ingredients like shiso leaves. I had to stop myself from buying everything I saw! And now I am on an Asian-food cooking frenzy.
I love Asian food for a myriad of reasons. It is incredibly flavorful, fresh-tasting and can also be pretty quick to make. So now that I have stocked up on some new sauces, I have been experimenting with making new dishes with them.
Lettuce wraps are something I have enjoyed at many Asian restaurants but have only made once or twice until now. Armed with a full supply of sesame oil, I decided to make them for dinner one night. In under 30 minutes, I had a healthy dinner on the table that will be a new favorite in our house.
This dish is fun because you get to eat it with your hands. If you worry about gluten (which I don’t!) it’s free of it. There is a ton of flavor and it will impress your friends if you choose to share it. We liked it so much that I made it again a week later to serve to a group of friends at a dinner party. I did summer rolls and the lettuce wraps and the guests left very happy.
As with most of my recipes, you can adjust to suit your tastes. Make it spicier if you like and adjust the vegetables in it. Mushrooms and boc choy would be nice additions or subsitutions for the carrot. I add the spinach just for extra health benefits but it’s not essential to the dish. Basil could be substituted for the cilantro and lime juice could be exchanged for the rice vinegar. It would be hard to mess this up so play around with it.
If you prep all the ingredients and have everything ready to go, you can just cook it right before you are ready to serve. If you want to turn this into a heartier meal, serve it with freshly steamed jasmine rice on the side. You can add sliced cucumber and tomato on the side too, to really complete the dinner.
This column was originally published in the Jackson Hole News and Guide.