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Cornstarch-dusted fried shrimp star in these easy-to-compose lettuce wraps with pickled veggies. / Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS

Spring brings with it a bounty of fresh greens, including tender baby lettuces and good-for-you crunchy carrots. For a quick and easy dish, I love to use both in Thai-inspired lettuce wraps.

Packed with protein but also low in fat and calories, these wraps are perfect for seafood lovers who might have tired of fried fish during Lent. They feature crispy fried shrimp that get their delicate, golden-brown crust from a quick dip in cornstarch, plus the bright acidic crunch of quick-pickled veggies and thin slices of cucumber.

A slather of hot sauce-spiked mayonnaise ties it all together to create a satisfying, handheld mix of salty + sweet + spicy.

I used my Hank's Heat Hot Sauce to add some kick to the mayo, but Sriracha or even chili sauce would work just as well.

You should not see the shrimp under the cornstarch after you dredge it, so you may have to press gently with your fingers to get it to firmly adhere. I used two shrimp per wrap.

 

Crispy Shrimp Lettuce Wraps

1 large carrot, peeled and shredded (about 1/3 cup)

1 Fresno chili, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

Vegetable oil, for frying

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoons hot sauce, or more (or less) to taste

16 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 1 pound), tails removed

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup milk

1 cup cornstarch

1 head Bibb lettuce leaves, washed and dried

1/2 English cucumber, very thinly sliced

Fresh cilantro sprigs, for garnish

Lime wedges, for serving

Place carrot, chili pepper and vinegar in a small bowl; stir to combine. Let marinate while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

In a 12-inch cast-iron or heavy skillet, heat 1 inch of oil over medium-high until sizzling.

Meanwhile, add mayonnaise and hot sauce to a small bowl; mix with fork until well combined.

Season shrimp generously with salt and pepper. Dip in milk, then dredge in cornstarch until shrimp is covered. Working in two batches, fry shrimp one side at a time until crispy, pink and cooked through, about 2 minutes total. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread some of the flavored mayonnaise on the center of each lettuce leaf, then top with a few cucumber slices and some pickled carrot. Add two shrimp on top, and garnish with cilantro.

Serve with lime wedges and additional mayo, if desired.

Serves 4.

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