I don’t know about you, but I sure do like to mix up our dinner menu. I just can’t hack eating the same food over and over again. That is one reason I love to try new fun dinner ideas. I have especially loved cooking with different ethnic ingredients. I have been on a little bit of a sweet chili kick lately. I’ve always been a fan of lettuce wraps. Sometimes I get tired of eating grains, and honestly, I am not real big on large quantities of meat with every meal. I could totally go vegetarian and be just fine…. I just don’t have any huge desire to take that plunge. Mostly because my husband eats (and wants) meat, and I feel like my kids need it in their diets. I am not one to cook multiple meals for different people in the family, so what they eat, I eat too. (Minus the shrimp thing. I’m allergic and sadly can’t have it!) Anywho…
A lot of my food-spiration comes from amazing meals I have enjoyed over the years out and about. Have you ever ordered the Thai Lettuce Wraps from Cheesecake Factory? They are superb. I love everything in them, and all their sauces are great. They have three I think. Considering the fact that I have two energetic kiddos, I don’t get to frequent the Cheesecake Factory as often as I might like. Seriously, their kitchen skills boggle my mind. They offer such an enormous variety of food items you can order, and they all come out delicious. I would die trying to manage that level of cooking as the head chef. I really don’t see how they manage!?
I thought I would whip something up that had that Cheesecake Lettuce Wrap vibe. I honestly don’t even remember what they have as toppings anymore, but I do remember thoughrally enjoying them. Today I am using a hydroponic butter lettuce head (or living lettuce) which still has the roots attached, for the wrap portion of my dish. Love this lettuce. It is so mild and buttery.
First we will slice our cucumber into thin sticks. Next cut the red pepper into matchsticks. Get out your shredded carrots and basil. Tear leaves from stems of basil plant. Place each topping into its own bowl and have ready to serve.
Soak Maifun Rice Sticks in hot water for 15 minutes to soften the noodles. Drain and let them dry a little.
Prepare the two sauces. First heat up a cup of sweet chili sauce, and set aside. You can do this in the microwave or over the stove. Easy peasy!
Next, heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in toasted sesame oil and the red curry paste. Saute the curry paste until the aroma gets stronger. Add in peanut butter. Mix well. Pour in coconut milk and whisk together, and reduce heat to medium. Let this sauce simmer for about 7 minutes to thicken.
In a large skillet melt butter and toasted sesame oil. Add in chicken breasts that have been salted and peppered. If you want to be really prepared, you could pound down the chicken breasts to be an even thickness and they will be more tender and quick to cook. (I obviously didn’t get smart and do this step…) 🙂
Add in the zest of a lime over chicken breasts to boost the flavor.
Finish cooking the chicken over the stove until fully cooked in the center. Test this by checking the “bounce” of the meat in the thickest part of the chicken. Try not to pierce the meat before it is done cooking or you will lose the juices. Cook until most of the “bounce” is gone from the chicken breast. Remove them from the skillet and allow them to rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing thin.
In the same skillet that you used for the chicken, toss in a little extra toasted sesame oil and a tablespoon of butter and saute the rice noodles with 1 shallot sliced thin over medium-high heat.
Salt and pepper to season. Saute until noodles are slightly browned and remove from heat.
Wash and pat dry the leaves of your butter lettuce head. Arrange all toppings and serve! Start with a butter lettuce leaf. Fill it with some rice noodles, a few strips of chicken, some carrots, red peppers and cucumber. Decide whether you want to dress it with the peanut-coconut curry sauce, or the sweet chili sauce. Top with a basil leaf and you are ready to eat!
I hope you enjoy your Thai lettuce wraps! These are so fun to make! They are so versatile too. If you don’t have these exact veggies on hand that’s OK! They would be great with a number of different veggies. You could use blanched asparagus, zucchini sauteed would be great too. Just use your imagination. You could also prepare and serve these as a vegetarian dish. Just omit the chicken and put in extra veggies and you are good to go! Happy Eating!
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