Yo, yo, wassup my homies? For today’s recipe, we goin’ Asian rap!
Lol okay, not rap but wrap. I’m just playin’, let’s drop the character. Last year, April of 2015, I had the opportunity to travel to Thailand. I stayed in Bangkok for 4 days and feasted with the locals as they celebrated Songkran. Songkran is a festival celebrating the traditional Thai New Year, held in April (the festivities usually last the whole week) and marked by the throwing and sprinkling of water. Okay let me take that back, it is not sprinkling, it’s dousing with water for the most part. People are literally setting up large containers filled with water in front of their homes / stores and soak everyone who pass by.
I was eating at a roadside (street food is fantastic in Thailand, by the way, very Paleo-friendly and low carb for the most part) when I saw a well-dressed woman walking by then a guy expeditiously approached her from behind and drenched her with water using a basin. She shrieked! I cringed and I felt bad for her but it turned out unexpectedly okay. The woman laughed with the stranger for a while, exchanged a couple of greetings then went on their own ways. I just looked at my travel buddy with amazement and said: “Well, I was expecting it’ll escalate quickly.”. Getting your mobile phones soaked is not a worry, everyone seems to anticipate getting wet because they all wear water-proof cell phone pouch necklaces.
Thailand is full of surprises! A lot of things are familiar yet completely new and that is evident in their cuisine too. One of the most used ingredients in Thai cooking is herbs. Herbs like cilantro, mint, Thai basil and coriander are fresh and generously used just like in Vietnam when I visited last December but that’s another story.
Today’s recipe is inspired by my taste of Thailand and to make things even more exciting, we’re gonna do it low-carb! How? We’re gonna be using lettuce for wraps instead of your usual plain flour tortilla, which packs around 16g of carbs per piece and we’re gonna be using turkey! Yum yum! Oh, by the way, do you still have leftover turkey from last year’s Thanksgiving? Well it’s about time… to throw them away. It’s been 3 months already. Discard! Don’t use it in this recipe, okay? If you’re not a turkey kind of person, you can use chicken or any “other white meat” you want. You can even use tofu!
THAI-INSPIRED LETTUCE WRAPS
What you need to have 4 servings:
- 1 lb. ground turkey
- 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp. Thai red curry paste
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tbsp. minced ginger
- 1/2 cup chopped green onions
- 1 small red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
- 1 cup shredded cabbage
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 1/2 head of iceberg lettuce, then cut in half again
- 6 pcs chopped Thai basil leaves
- 2 pcs finely chopped Kaffir lime leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
Note: The cooking method is stir-frying in high heat (just like what they do in Thailand) so you need to do this fast to avoid burning of the ingredients. If you are not very confident in pulling this off, you can reduce the heat and extend the cooking time a little bit.
- Heat your skillet (or if you have a wok, please use it) on high and when it’s hot enough, add in your olive oil.
- Add in the ground turkey, break apart and cook until well-done. If you are using another type of meat which renders fat, I recommend discarding some of the fat as too much of it might destroy the harmony of the ingredients. If you are using leftover meat, just stir-fry it in the oil until it’s heated enough.
- Add in the Thai curry paste, ginger, cabbage, bell pepper and continue stir-frying for about 3 minutes while adding salt and pepper to taste.
- Add in the hoisin sauce, green onins and do an acrobatic toss (just kidding). Give it a good mix, remove from heat and add Thai basil leaves then toss.
- Prepare your lettuce wraps by separating them and selecting the leaves that resembles a cup or a taco. Spoon just enough filling on top and garnish with Kaffir lime leaves. You can also use coriander, cilantro or mint.
- Serve on a lovely plate with wedges of lime on the side and you can also garnish it with lemongrass.
I believe that one of the best ways to experience another country’s culture is through their food. This recipe definitely captured my Thai gastronomic adventure, I hope you give it a try so you could have a glimpse of Thailand. Till next time! Eat well, be well, farewell!