I have a fondness for asian cuisine; specifically, Thai food. Kaffir lime, curry, thai basil, coconut milk—the whole shebang. Thai food is warm and welcoming and contains all of the major taste senses: sweet, sour, salty, & spicy. No matter how hard I try, I can never duplicate authentic Thai cuisine. Pad Thai is my most favorite thing to eat on the planet, but impossibly hard to make just right yourself. It helps to have a good Asian grocery store, and we happen to have one in OKC called Super Cao. They even sell balut eggs there….don’t know what it is? DO NOT look it up. You won’t have an appetite for the rest of the day.
However, with just the help of a few simple ingredients that you can get at most major grocery stores (yes, even Wal Mart), you can come close to that authentic Thai taste. My pantry is full of Thai spices and sauces I’ve picked up from Crest (a major grocery chain here in the metro), that includes Thai sweet chili sauce, peanut sauce, and rice vinegar.
I know peanuts aren’t “paleo”, but like I said in my most recent post, I’m not doing the full paleo thing. Rice, yogurt, and yes, peanuts remain. Peanuts are a big condiment in Thai food, and I use them almost daily in my cooking. That’s why when I stumbled upon this recipe, I had to try it. Lettuce wraps are surprisingly good—I thought denying myself of a tortilla would hurt. It does, to some degree, but the crunch of lettuce helps me forget what I’m missing. I used romaine lettuce since the grocery store was WIPED CLEAN of Bibb, Boston, spinach, kale and ALL BAGGED SALAD (I’m assuming there’s a correlation between this and it being the first of the year, cough New Years resolutions, cough). These wraps are perfect for being on the go (like myself) and are both good as a lunch and a dinner. I add sliced avocado inside the wrap to give it a buttery texture while getting those essential good-for-you fats.
Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 TBS. lime juice
- 2 TBS. mayonnaise
- 2 TBS. creamy peanut butter
- 1/2 TBS. brown sugar
- 1 TBS. soy sauce
- 2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 2 tsp. Thai sweet chili sauce
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 3 TBS. coconut oil (or olive oil)
- 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
- 2 cups cooked, cubed chicken breasts
- 1/2 cup chopped green onions
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots
- 1/2 cup unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts chopped, divided
- 6 lettuce leaves (Romaine, butter or bibb)
2. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, onion, carrots and 1/2 of the peanuts. Add dressing from food processor and toss to coat. Divide among lettuce leaves, top with peanuts and avocado. Fold lettuce over filling to create a wrap.
When I take this to work, I put the chicken salad in one container and the lettuce leaves in a ziploc bag to ensure their crispy texture. If you make it and then wrap it up, the lettuce may get soggy. You can also add bell peppers to the chicken salad if you’d like, and could even try it with cashews instead of peanuts for all you paleo people out there. I don’t know what a good paleo substitute for mayonnaise is, but there’s not a lot in this recipe. Maybe add more chili sauce instead of using mayonnaise? It’s a very versatile recipe, so that may work out for you. These are so, so, so good and one of my favorite lunches to take with me to work. Enjoy!