Asian Lettuce Cups

Asian Pork Lettuce Cups | Pinky's Pantry
I felt like having Chinese food for dinner tonight and started thinking about P.F. Chang’s restaurant. We haven’t eaten there in years, but I remember how much I loved their chicken lettuce wraps. Well, I didn’t have any chicken, but I did have some ground pork so I thought, why not? Couldn’t I create something using pork as a substitute? Here’s what I came up with. The family loved it! I called the dish “Asian” because it was inspired by the wraps from a Chinese restaurant, but teriyaki marinade is Japanese, the noodles are Filipino, the peanut sauce is Indonesian, and the Mae Ploy sauce is Thai. LOL! A delicious blend of Asian flavors!
Asian Pork Lettuce Cups | Pinky's Pantry        Asian Pork Lettuce Cups | Pinky's Pantry

ASIAN LETTUCE CUPS

Prepare the Meat:

  • 1 lb. ground chicken or ground pork (I used ground pork)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bottle Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki marinade & sauce (or use your favorite brand)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 can (8 ozs.) waterchestnuts, diced
  • 1 stalk green onion, thinly sliced
  • 4-6 shitake mushroom caps, finely diced (optional)
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded & minced (optional)
  1. Brown ground meat and garlic in a medium saucepot.
  2. Drain excess oil, if any.
  3. Stir in 1/2 cup teriyaki marinade and let cook for 2-3 minutes, then taste the meat. If it seems lacking in flavor, add more teriyaki sauce, a tablespoon at a time, until the flavor is to your liking. Be careful not to add too much or it will be too salty! I like Soy Vay teriyaki marinade but you could really use whatever brand you like.
  4. Stir in grated ginger, cook for a minute more, and then taste the meat again. Just like with the teriyaki sauce, you can add more grated ginger, a teaspoon at a time, till the flavor is to your liking.
  5. Stir in the water chestnuts, green onion, shitake mushrooms and jalapeño. Depending on how big your shitake mushroom caps are, you can add more or less, or omit them entirely if you don’t like them at all. Same thing with the jalapeño. You can add more than one if you want the dish spicier, or omit it altogether.

Make the Peanut Sauce:

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1½ tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp. grated ginger
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepot and cook over medium heat, stirring with a wire whisk until well blended.
  2. The sauce thickens as it cools. If it becomes too thick, add more water, a tablespoon at a time, till it reaches the consistency you want.

Prepare Remaining Ingredients:

  • 1-2 heads butter lettuce
  • 1 pkg. bean thread or cellophane noodles
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 bunch basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 bunch mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup peanuts, finely chopped (optional)
  • Mae Ploy sweet chilli sauce
  1. Carefully separate larger, outer lettuce leaves and wash and dry them well.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the noodles and let boil just until softened, about 2 minutes or so. Drain into a colander, run cold water over them, then allow to drain and cool completely.
  3. Place all the condiments in separate little serving bowls.
  4. Have everyone assemble their own wraps.

To Assemble:

  1. Place a lettuce leaf on your plate.
  2. Top with some noodles, then meat, carrots, and herbs.
  3. Pour a little peanut sauce over the top.
  4. Add a little Mae Ploy sweet chilli sauce.
  5. Then finally, sprinkle top with chopped peanuts if desired.
  6. If your lettuce leaf is big enough, you can roll it into a little log and call it a lettuce wrap. If not, just serve it open-faced with a fork and knife and call it a lettuce cup like I did! A rose by any other name, right?

NOTE:  If you don’t like ground chicken or ground pork, you can make this dish with whole boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Mix the teriyaki marinade and grated ginger together (omit the rest of the ingredients). Marinate the chicken in the teriyaki-ginger mixture for at least an hour, preferably overnight. Grill the chicken or bake it in the oven. Slice cooked chicken into thin strips. Then continue with the recipe.
Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps | Pinky's Pantry

Shrimp Toast

Shrimp Toast | Pinky's PantrySomehow, I’d forgotten all about this recipe until now. I was looking through my recipe box for an appetizer to make and came across my recipe for these crispy little nuggets of seafoody goodness. I used to make Shrimp Toast for parties all the time when I was newly married. Finding this recipe instantly brought back memories of parties past….. a baby shower for my first born….. a birthday party where we danced all night….. lots of good times.

The name “Shrimp Toast” usually brings to mind those little triangles of fried bread with a shrimp mixture mounded on top. This recipe is different in that the bread is flattened with a rolling pin, spread with the shrimp mixture, then rolled into logs. The logs are fried until golden brown and then each log is cut into four little bite-sized rolls. One loaf of bread makes a lot of little shrimp rolls. For example, if your loaf has 15 slices of bread, you’ll end up with 60 little appetizers. It sounds like a lot, but believe me, they go fast! Everytime I make these, the little rolls are completely wiped out!
Shrimp Toast | Pinky's Pantry

SHRIMP TOAST

  • 1¼ lb. raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 2 stalks green onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp. minced ginger
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 4 tsp. Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground white pepper
  • 1 loaf day-old white sandwich bread
  • canola oil for deep-frying
  1. Place shrimp, green onion, ginger, egg whites, rice wine, sesame oil, cornstarch, salt, and pepper into the workbowl of a food processor.
  2. Process until the mixture forms a paste, stopping a couple of times to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Trim the crusts from the bread.
  4. With a rolling pin, roll each bread slice to a little less than ¼-inch thick.
  5. Spread a layer of the shrimp mixture about ⅛-inch thick on each slice of bread, leaving about a half-inch of one side free.
  6. Roll each bread slice into a little log and place seam side down on a plate. The shrimp mixture should squeeze out to reach the free edge as you roll. If the mixture doesn’t reach the free edge, just smear a thin layer of shrimp mixture on it and press it closed to seal.
  7. Pour about 2 inches of oil into a wok or high-sided frying pan and heat to 350ºF.
  8. Working with 3 or 4 rolls at a time, slide rolls into the oil and fry until golden brown.
    Shrimp Toast | Pinky's Pantry
  9. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  10. Cut each roll into 4 bite-sized pieces using a serrated knife.
    Shrimp Toast | Pinky's Pantry
  11. Serve warm with sweet-and-sour sauce or with a sweet chili sauce like Mae Ploy.

NOTE:  This recipe can be prepared a day or two in advance. Just follow the recipe all the way to Step 6, then stack the rolls in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to fry. I have never tried freezing the rolls, but I can’t imagine why that wouldn’t work if you needed to make them a week or two ahead of time for some reason. If you try freezing them, post a comment and let me know how they turned out.

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

Beef and Broccoli | Pinky's PantryBeef and Broccoli is a Chinese-American creation. I don’t actually know if they serve this dish in China, but you can certainly find it in every Chinese restaurant in America. It’s one of the more popular dishes. My kids absolutely love it. We never go to a Chinese restaurant without getting at least one order of Beef and Broccoli.

I took a Chinese cooking class many years ago before I was even married. This recipe is an adaptation of the recipe we learned in class. I’ve tweaked it over the years and made some changes to the original (no offense to my cooking teacher). I still don’t think it tastes quite like what you get in a Chinese restaurant, but it’s yummy and hits the spot when you can’t get down the hill to Debbie Wong’s.
Beef and Broccoli | Pinky's Pantry

BEEF AND BROCCOLI STIR FRY

  • 1 lb. beef, like flank steak, boneless ribs, top sirloin, or tri-tip
  • 1½ lbs. broccoli florets
  • ⅓ cup oyster sauce
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ⅓ cup rice wine
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. grated ginger
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  1. Slice beef into strips.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together oyster sauce, soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, sesame oil, ginger, and cornstarch.
  3. Place sliced beef into marinade and allow to marinate for 15 minutes to an hour.
  4. Heat a little oil in a wok and stir fry garlic quickly.
  5. Add broccoli and stir fry until broccoli turns bright green.
  6. Remove from pan and set aside.
  7. Add a little more oil to wok.
  8. When hot, remove beef from marinade, put into wok, and stir fry until just cooked.
  9. Add broccoli back into wok and toss with beef to combine.
  10. Serve with cooked white rice.

NOTE:  If you want a little sauce, pour some of the marinade into the wok together with the beef and cook together. If sauce is too watery, you can thicken it with cornstarch.

Thai Steak Salad

Thai Steak Salad | Pinky's PantryI had a long day at work today. It was one of those days where you’re pulled in so many directions that it feels like you can’t get anything finished. Sometimes, I think I can’t wait to retire. The thought of being able to stay home and relax, spend my days cooking and blogging, seems like such a distant fantasy. An easy dinner was in order. And what could be easier than a salad?

I had some steak in the fridge so decided to make a Thai Steak Salad for dinner tonight. The dressing for this recipe has no oil in it so if you use a lean cut of meat, the dish is virtually fat free. The lime juice adds such a bright, refreshing flavor. You can make the salad spicier by increasing the Sriracha in the dressing or omit the Sriracha entirely if you prefer. This light, delicious salad is the perfect ending to a long day.

THAI STEAK SALAD

For the Steak:

  • 1½ lbs. flank steak or sirloin steak
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Grill steak until medium or to desired degree of doneness.
  2. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper on both sides.
  3. Cover with foil and let stand for 10 minutes or so.
  4. Slice steak across the grain into thin slices.

For the Dressing:

  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
  1. In a small bowl, stir together the lime juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce, garlic, and Sriracha until well combined.
  2. The dressing can be made up to a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

For the Salad:

  • 2 cups lettuce torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1¼ cups fresh bean sprouts
  • ¾ cup julienned carrots
  • ⅓ cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • ⅓ cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • ⅓ cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  1. In a large salad bowl, lightly toss the salad ingredients together.
  2. Add the dressing and toss again to combine.
  3. Place a little salad on a plate, top with some sliced steak, and serve.

NOTE:  You could also toss the steak, salad, and dressing all together in a big bowl if you like, but I think that plating the salad and topping it with some slices of steak makes for prettier-looking servings.