Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Ground Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Thai Chile-Lime Sauce

Lettuce wraps make an easy, casual dinner, and the ingredients are as versatile as they are flavorful. For this recipe, I kept the wraps light with lean ground chicken breast and a few fresh vegetables.

By itself, ground chicken doesn’t impart much flavor, so some aromatics are in order. I cooked the meat quickly with a little garlic, ginger, scallion, and chiles to add both taste and fragrance, then finished the filling with earthy shiitake mushrooms to give the dish more depth. It all cooks up in less than 15 minutes.

No matter how tasty the filling is, wraps still beg for sauce. If you’ve read very many recipes on this blog, you know I’m no stranger to heat—but flavorful heat, of course. (Hot for the sake of hot is just hot. And silly.)

Thai is one of my favorite cuisines, and the sauce here is based on common Thai ingredients: ginger, garlic, lime juice, fish sauce, and those delectable tiny Thai chiles. It’s loaded with flavor but a little goes a long way—a tablespoon or so per wrap is all you need.

You can divide the sauce into individual small bowls to use for dipping, or simply pass the bowl at the table to let your guests spoon it over the filling before wrapping the lettuce around it.

Serves 4


For the Sauce
  • 2 Thai chiles, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp ground fresh chile paste (sambal oelek)
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 3 tsp sugar
For the Wraps
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 red fresno chiles, chopped
  • 2 Thai chiles, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 lb ground chicken breast
  • 4 oz shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced (stems removed)
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 large Boston lettuce leaves
  • steamed white rice, for serving (optional)
Aromatics for the Ground Chicken 
Shiitake Mushrooms

For the Sauce
  1. Place all ingredients in a mini-processor and process until smooth. Place in a small bowl and set aside. (May be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate overnight. 
Chiles, Garlic, and Ginger
Thai Chile-Lime Sauce
For the Wraps
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the next 7 ingredients (through chicken) and cook, breaking up the meat, 5 minutes. 
  2. Add the shiitake mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the vegetables are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, 7-8 minutes. 

Chicken Mixture Beginning to Cook
Mushrooms Added
Cooked Chicken Mixture
  1. Remove from the heat and let cool 10 minutes. (Cooling slightly helps keep the lettuce from wilting too quickly.)
To serve, place the chicken mixture in a bowl and serve with lettuce leaves and sauce to let your guests build their own wraps. Serve with sides of steamed rice, if desired.

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