I am fortunate to have really great authentic Thai restaurants in Los Angeles. I verified the authenticity several years ago when I was in Bangkok, Thailand. Everything I ordered tasted just like home.
One of my favorite appetizers are the Thai Lettuce Wraps. These are wraps made with thin sheets of rice paper wrapped around a filling which includes lettuce, grated carrots, bean sprouts, dressed Thai rice noodles and, if I’m doing the ordering, shrimp.
No matter how much peanut sauce and chili sauce they serve, I always need more.
Whenever I am eating these, I look forward to the moment when I get that one perfect bit of sweet shrimp, fresh lettuce, gently seasoned Thai noodles and a hint of crunchy carrots. It’s usually the middle or second bite. The first one usually doesn’t have the shrimp and the last bite has too much rice paper.
For Game Night, I wanted to make Thai Lettuce Wraps that just had that one perfect bite. I decided that I didn’t need the rice paper at all. Also, rolling lots of Thai wraps is pretty labor intensive and there was enough work in menu that I wanted to simplify the process.
These are very easy to assemble. The secret is to by Little Gem Lettuce Hearts. This gives you miniature lettuce leaves that are perfect.
If you haven’t ever cooked Thai rice noodles, you must try them. They are actually easier than pasta noodles, extremely versatile and gluten free.
In this recipe, I’m only giving you measurements for the rice noodles. For the rest, you calculate how many pieces you want to make. For Game Night, I figured 3 wraps per person, given everything else on the menu.
Also, make sure you have plenty of dipping sauces in lots of small ramekins. Everyone was happy to have their own and not have to share, or stop eating and pass sauces around.
THAI LETTUCE WRAPS WITH SHRIMP, PEANUT SAUCE & CHILI GARLIC SAUCE
EVENT: Game Night
For the wraps:
Shrimp: The shrimp will be butterflied, so each shrimp yields 2 pieces. Decide on the number of finished bites, divide by 2 and this gives you the number of shrimp to buy.
Lettuce: Where I buy Little Baby Gem Lettuce, these are packaged 6 to a package. You won’t need them all but they won’t go to waste.
Carrots: 2 large, shredded
Pad Thai rice noodles: 8 oz.
Fresh lemon juice
For the dressing for the noodles:
3 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ teaspoon sesame oil
¼ teaspoon Thai fish sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
Prepare dressing for noodles:
1. In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk all the ingredients except for toasted sesame seeds together. Set aside.
1. Bring a large pot of water to a full boil.
2. Soak the noodles in boiling water 2-3 minutes. Immediately drain noodles into colander and rinse with cold water.
3. Set aside and allow to drain thoroughly.
4. When cool, using a kitchen scissors, cut noodles into short sections.
1. Rinse shrimp in cold water and make sure they have been divided.
2. Soak briefly in ice water with lemon juice.
3. Drain, slice lengthwise (butterfly), so each shrimp gives you 2 pieces.
Prepare lettuce leaves:
1. Separate lettuce leaves.
2. Trim bottoms from leaves to have size for 1 shrimp and to make them uniform.
3. Toss noodles with dressing and taste. Correct for salt. When taste is correct, add toasted sesame seeds and toss.
Assemble lettuce wraps:
1. Arrange lettuce leaves on a platter.
2. Top each piece with approximately ½ teaspoon noodles. Top noodles with shredded carrots.
3. Top with shrimp.
4. Serve with two dipping sauces.