When I think of Thai food, I often think of overly complicated dishes with many steps done in a particular order with ingredients not found in many kitchens. I'm so silly, because in the end - none of that is even true. The most complicated thing about this dish was making the rice. And, who (besides Lisa on Top Chef) doesn't know how to make some kind of rice? I also think of my very special pan thai. (Cheating is OK!) Thai food has this way of ending with a "pretty" and a "yum." I think what draws me to this particular cuisine over and over are the vibrant colors, different textures and the break from the American norm of meat and potatoes. I went out to dinner with a couple of friends last week to a newly opened Thai restaurant, and tried the fried bananas...you can bet I will be attempting to make those soon!
Give this recipe a shot. I promise you will not be disappointed in the outcome. It's lovely on a warm summer night! Plus, no silverware.
THAI LETTUCE (under) WRAPS
2 cups prepare Jasmine Rice
1 head of a leafy green lettuce (such as Boston), leaves separated, cleaned and patted dry
1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple, milled finely to a canned "crushed" texture
1 bell pepper (any color), diced
4 scallions, diced
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tsp minced garlic
4 tsp minced ginger
2 lb. lean ground pork
3/4 tsp chili paste, or Tabasco sauce (less if you want less heat)
1/3 cup Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
1 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Prepare rice according to package directions.
While rice is steaming, prepare lettuce leaves and set aside. Prepare pineapple, scallions and bell peppers and place each ingredient in their own small bowl.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add ginger and garlic and cook about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Immediately add pork - using a wooden spoon to separate the meat. Season with pepper. Add chili paste and stir to combine. Cook meat until done, approximately 10-12 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar and fish sauce. Add sauce to cooked pork and simmer for 1 minute. Turn off heat. Add chopped cilantro, and transfer to a serving bowl.
Assemble your lettuce wraps using each of the prepared ingredients, and enjoy.
Sometimes you just need to feel like a kid again, and eat with your hands. Pork and pineapple are such a classic combination, there was no doubt in my mind that this recipe would work and be great. Plus, it left ample room for ice cream.