Say that three times fast! I dare you! These Thai lettuce cups will have your tongue doing acrobatics of joy. And not just because of the tongue twister of a name. You have probably seen a variation of this in restaurants and on pinterest. It’s an easy and healthy option when you are looking for something to fill you up but not weigh you down. This is by no means an authentic recipe, and has a few Chinese inspiration. I’ll note where I deviate from the norm as we go. Gai means chicken in Thai and ground chicken is at the heart of this dish. But we are going to start with onions!
This is the first place where I start to go off the rails. I like onions and know how essential they are too cooking but big slices of onions don’t appeal to me when I’m eating so I tend to go for a fine chop. And then it’s time to cook these babies!
Moving even further off the rails here, I sautéed my onions in chili sesame oil. I love this stuff. It fills my whole house with the most delicious smells and gives my food a delightfully spicy nutty flavor. Don’t judge me.
Once your onions are cooked it’s time to add in chilis, ginger and garlic. These things are an absolute staple in any Asian cooking I do. Today I used red chilis because they were the spiciest I could find at Publix.
And one more little variation I used water chestnuts instead of roasted rice powder. First off, I don’t much care for rice (I’m a bad Indian) and for the amount of carbs they pack they have very little nutritional value. Water Chestnuts are only slightly better for you, but I really like them. And they were in my pantry. But if you wanted to go truly low carb you could leave these out with no problem.
I like to throw my coriander stems into this vegetable sauté before adding my meat because I want them to cook a little but more to release their flavor. But once that’s done it’s finally meat time! Ground chicken is what I used, but ground turkey would work just as well and is often easier to find.
I added in some extra salt and pepper when the meat hit the pan. Because I didn’t want my chicken to be unseasoned.
Once it is cooked through start tasting! You will need to adjust the flavors to your preference. I also add in a little fish sauce while this is simmering. And I use this time to finely chop up my herbs; coriander, mint and basil. Thai basil would have been ideal but I have planted yet!
When you are ready to serve take all of those bright green, chopped leaves and toss them in your pan and fold them in! Get a good waft of that steam it’s so herbaceous and lovely!
You don’t want to cook the leaves too much so I usually turn the burner off and remove it from the heat while these incorporate. This is also a good time to taste. You want your meat to be relatively dry as opposed to soupy when you serve so make sure any excess moisture has been cooked off.
Serve on lettuce leaf boats and enjoy!
- 1 Lb. ground chicken
- 1 medium red onion finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp sesame chili oil
- 1/4 cup water chestnuts, diced
- 1 Tbsp ground ginger
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 Tbsp finely chopped chillies
- 1/4 cup chopped coriander stems
- 1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
- 1/4 cup chopped Thai basil (Italian will do)
- 1/4 cup chopped coriander leaves
- Fish sauce to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Finely chop onion and add to a pan heated with sesame chili oil.
- Sautee until just beginning to sweat and add in ginger, garlic and chilis
- Cook until fragrant and add in water chestnuts.
- Once chestnuts begin to glisten add in your coriander stems.
- As soon as stems are fully incorporated add in ground chicken. Salt and pepper as needed thought out all of these steps.
- Once chicken is fully cooked add in a few dashes of fish sauce if so inclined.
- Mix in chopped mint, basil and coriander leaves. Turn burner off and remove pan from heat.
- Serve on a lettuce leaf.