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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Little Lettuce Cups: Big Burst of Flavor

Traditional Thai restaurants often serve a tasty offering that is part salad, part grazing buffet and part appetizer. Those three parts equal a whole lot of flavor in your mouth, and a great way to turn on your taste buds.

It's a very simple idea: some sour, some sweet, some salt, some fruit.

For our cups we used baby romaine leaves, but any green will do. We've had them in cabbagey Asian greens, Boston lettuce leaves and green leaf lettuce.

The idea is to put a little of each of seven ingredients into the leaf along with an Asian sauce, then roll it up and pop it in your mouth. A wonderful, before-meal treat.

The sauce can be sweet or savory. For ours, we mixed two Tablespoons of Hoisin sauce, two Tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter and one Tablespoon of soy sauce. If you want spicy, add a teaspoon or less of rooster paste or srirachi sauce.

The seven tasty ingredients:

Coconut, sweet or savory, toasted in a small dry pan
Peanuts, not salted, toasted in a dry pan
Ginger, chopped
Lime, chopped into small pieces, skin included if you want
Peppers, chopped, any degree of heat from jalapeƱo to bell. We used banana pepper
Onion, either raw or toasted
Shrimp, either cooked or dried. If you're vegetarian, keep the sea taste by including dried seaweed used for sushi rolls.

When we make ours, we smear the sauce on the lettuce to act as a kind of paste. Then we add about a half teaspoon of coconut, a couple of peanuts, a pinch of onion, a pinch of peppers and one piece each of ginger, lime and shrimp.

Roll it up and pop it in your mouth for a fresh and wonderful burst of flavor.

A nice crisp wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Pinot Grigio, or unoaked Chardonnay is a nice accompaniment.


  1. We took these to a dinner party last night and people oohed and aaahed. They are great because grazers can put in, and leave out, whatever they want.

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  4. I have tried your recipe yesterday and it was great thank you. I will try your other recipes as well and see how it goes.

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