Monday, June 16, 2014

Shrimp Lettuce Wraps

Shrimp is like a blank canvas: a versatile and mild type of seafood ready to take on flavor.
If marinated and placed into a lettuce leaf cup, the lettuce and shrimp plus other garnishes become a vibrantly flavored (and colored) hand-held salad.

Southeast Asian inspired, the fresh flavor combination altogether offers a light bite, perfect for summer- either as an appetizer, a starter, or a casual main.

A little sweet, lots of savory, with a good dose of bright freshness, spice from the chili flakes and sweet chilli sauce, and cool crispness from the crunchy and buttery lettuce.  

The shrimp is great to finish the day before and chill... everything's ready to go when needed.

YES, those are cooked shrimp you see.
NO, you do not want to buy cooked shrimp for this recipe. I mean, you can, I suppose, but the flavor will be better if you marinate raw shrimp instead of cooked. Plus, if you decide to cook already cooked shrimp you'll more than likely end up with a texture you weren't expecting.

(If you're ready to shoot, but happen to be missing some key elements, a grocery store run is in order. But sometimes communication between two people during grocery runs yields unintended results. Really, it's ok though.)

Serve assembly line-style, already put together, or pack into small individual jars and refrigerate to take later for picnic salads.

Shrimp Lettuce Wraps
serves 6-8

2 lb (900 g) medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
large thumb sized piece of ginger, finely grated
1 stalk lemongrass, bruised and crushed with the back of a knife, and sliced
1/2 t (1 g) chile flakes
2  large cloves garlic, minced
2 T (30 ml) soy or tamari sauce
1 T (17 g) packed brown sugar
1 t (5 g) kosher salt
1/4 c (60 ml) lime juice
zest of 1 lime
1/4 c (60 ml) olive oil

1 large carrot
4 medium radishes
3 large green onions

lettuce (Bibb is my preference here)
fresh cilantro leaves
fresh basil leaves
sweet chilli sauce, to serve

If the shrimp still have the tails attached, remove and discard. Slice each shrimp into three bite-sized pieces and set aside. Mix marinade ingredients together in a large bowl: ginger, lemongrass, chile flakes, garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar, salt, lime juice and zest, and olive oil. Add the pieces of shrimp and carefully fold together to coat in the marinade. 
Cover and let marinate at least 3 hours and up to overnight in the refrigerator.

Before you are ready to cook the shrimp, grate the carrot and radish, and slice the green onions. Place in a medium bowl and set aside. 
Remove shrimp pieces from marinade and saute in a pan until cooked through along with 2 T (30 ml) of the liquid marinade. 
Cool to room temperature and add to the bowl with the vegetables, mixing carefully but thoroughly. Add a bit of the cooked marinade from the pan if desired for a little extra flavor. 
(At this point you could refrigerate the shrimp and vegetable filling until ready to use, up to a day ahead.)

Spoon into lettuce leaves, garnish with cilantro and basil leaves as desired. 
Serve with sweet chilli sauce. 


  1. What a great picnic idea!
    Why can"t I think of that?
    This is how I can be just like the Barefoot Contessa.
    Now I hope none of my picnic friends read this blog.
    Okay, Natalia-----SHHHHHH>

  2. Wait a minute----I don't really have picnic friends---guess I will have to take my kids and their swimming towels.