Monday, January 19, 2009
A Ploy for Mae Ploy: Sweet Chili Sauce Lettuce Wraps
A couple of years ago, I was out west on vacation when I got an excited call from Virginia. Matt was at his friend Ramon's, and just had to tell me. Ramon made these awesome vegetables! They were really awesome! He used some really awesome sauce!
Luckily in his enthusiastic state he found out the same of said awesome sauce, and our love affair with Mae Ploy sweet chili sauce began. Thanks to Ramon, chili sauce veggies are a standard weeknight dinner around our place. Sometimes I add rice noodles and bits of mango, sometimes it's just a big mess of eggplant in a wok. It sort of doesn't matter, you could drink this stuff out of the jar. It's quite sweet and not that spicy, great with pork or chicken and a squeeze of lime. The discussion usually goes roughly like this:
Me: "Chili sauce for dinner?"
The rest of the ingredients don't really interest him.
This particular iteration was a winner, though. I was craving a big pile of colorful veggies wrapped in lettuce. I also wanted to try out a technique for chicken recommended by Jaden of Steamy Kitchen. Marinating chunks of chicken in cornstarch and egg white improves the texture and makes a light coating on the chicken bites while thickening the stir fry sauce. I used good organic chicken thighs, some ripe red peppers and crispy green beans, and plenty of chopped scallions, but you could adapt the recipe for whatever looks good at the market. Just make sure to get real Mae Ploy, the other brands aren't nearly as good.
One warning: this is not really dinner party food unless you're going super casual. It's a bit sloppy, and the veggies have a way of slithering out of their lettuce pockets.
Sweet Chili Sauce Lettuce Wraps
serves 2 generously
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 egg white
canola or other flavorless oil
1 lb green beans, ends removed
1 cup mushrooms
2 red bell peppers
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon prepared lemongrass—you can buy it in a jar!
1/4 cup Mae Ploy brand sweet chili sauce
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha
Romaine or butter lettuce leaves (6 whole leaves)
1/2 lime, squeezed plus lime wedges for serving
Wash lettuce leaves and leave intact, drying on paper towels. Cut chicken into 1 inch cubes, place in bowl. Add egg white and cornstarch, stir. Let marinate 20 or 30 minutes in the fridge while you prepare vegetables. Slice green beans, mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, and scallions for stir fry. Do not mix. Remove peel from tangerine and slice into bite size pieces, removing seeds.
In a wok or frying pan, saute green beans in a bit of oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally until beans begin to wrinkle. Remove beans from pan. Add mushrooms and zucchini to pan, adding oil if pan is dry. Add fish sauce and soy sauce, saute, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have lost their liquid.
Meanwhile, heat another wok and add oil. When wok sizzles, add chicken. Let cook 2 minutes without disturbing. Add lemongrass. Turn and stir, cook a few minutes more. Add red peppers to vegetable pan (where the mushrooms are), cook over low heat while you continue to cook chicken in hot wok. Add half of the chili sauce to the chicken. When chicken is fully cooked (check a piece), add scallions, tangerine, and all vegetables to the wok. Add remaining chili sauce and Sriracha. Stir and make sure everything is warm. Serve on lettuce leaves with limes, extra Sriracha, and lots of napkins.