This monthly cooking series features husband and wife team Barry and Kelley Courter.
BARRY SAYS: I love Thai food. It’s like every bite is an adventure that introduces you to some new flavor and experience. The thing is, the recipes are based around ingredients and spices that we are all fairly familiar with, plus a few perhaps not found in every cupboard, but that’s part of the adventure. This dish is a good example of that.
KELLEY SAYS: With the cold weather the past couple of weeks, I’m always wanting heat and spice in my meals. Fortunately for me, Barry is never opposed to the amount of peppers and spices that I use in cooking. I’m a big believer that certain foods can help combat the illnesses that hover around us.
We’ve had this dish two weekends in a row, and both times it was simple quick and very satisfying. It can be served alone or with soup, spring rolls or a side dish of noodles.
The first weekend I didn’t have the Bibb lettuce, so I used Romaine leaves. I ended up using an entire leaf and rolled them up like egg rolls.
BARRY: I liked those, and they were relatively easy to eat served that way.
KELLEY: Both lettuces work well. You can also use pork instead of chicken.
As far as some of the ingredients used like the garlic chive, lime leaf, Thai basil and kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), you will need to go to your local Asian market to purchase them. You could substitute the lime leaf with grated lime rind and the Thai basil with regular basil, but there is no substitute for the kecap manis.
BARRY SAYS: These wraps look so simple, but they are packed with flavors. The lime and the basil really come through. For the last meal, we had an Asian soup that Kelley made and spring rolls, and it was perfect.
Spicy Thai Lettuce Wraps
1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, minced
1-2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 large shallots, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
5 green onions, sliced thin
4-5 garlic chives or regular chive, finely chopped
2-3 Thai chili peppers, depends on your heat level
8 kaffir lime leaf, sliced thin
1 cup fresh Thai basil, chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
Prep all ingredients ahead of time and have on plate since the dish goes together quickly.
Combine fish sauce, kecap manis and brown sugar, set aside.
Heat wok on high, then add oil until smoking. Add chicken to wok and quickly stir fry until cooked. Add shallots and garlic. Cook for about 1 minute, then add onions, chives and peppers. Cook for about 1-2 minutes longer. Add liquid ingredients to coat. The mixture will begin to thicken a bit and, should the chicken start to stick, add a few drops of water to release it from pan. Finally, add lime leaf and basil. Cook until basil wilts. Remove from heat and place a couple of spoonfuls on lettuce leaves along with a squeeze of fresh lime juice. If you want more heat, serve with sriracha. Chopped peanuts would also add a nice crunchy touch.
Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...