V Lettuce Wraps with Simple Dipping Sauce
This recipe is fun for the entire family. You can keep the wraps vegetarian, or add cooked shrimp or chicken to them. Leftover roasted or grilled chicken, shredded, would be great -- or grill the shrimp. Below I have listed some of my favorite ingredients, but use whatever your family prefers. For the dipping sauce, experiment with heat and amount of garlic you use. Fish sauce can be found in the Asian sections in most grocery stores. This recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups of sauce.
Large lettuce leaves (most of a head), washed and dried
1/2 of a cucumber, in julienne slices
2 carrots, peeled and julienned
2-3 scallions, sliced very thin lengthwise
Radishes, julienned if large enough, or slice thinly
Herbs: roughly chopped basil, cilantro, mint, parsley -- a combination of a few of these is best. Mix them all together if you want, or keep separate
Arrange on a large platter, keeping each ingredient separate so each person can select the ingredients they want to wrap in their leaf.
1/3 cup fresh lime juice (2 or 3 large limes)
1 Tablespoon unseasoned Japanese rice vinegar
3 Tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup warm water
5 to 6 Tablespoons fish sauce
2 or 3 Thai or serrano chiles, thinly sliced (we have also used red pepper flakes if we don't have the peppers)
2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, vinegar, sugar, and water and stir to dissolve the sugar. Taste and adjust the flavors to balance the sweet and sour as you like.
Add the fish sauce, starting out with 5 tablespoons and then adding more as you palate dictates, to balance the sweet, sour and salty. How much fish sauce depends on the brand you use and your personal taste. Aim for a light honey or amber color and a bold foward flavor. Keep in mind that this sauce is being used to to dress ingredients that are unsalted, so they need a lift.
When you are happy with the balance, add the garlic and chiles. If your diners are sensitive to the heat of the chiles, keep them on the side.
Put the sauce on table so diners can serve themselves. We give each person a small container of sauce so that everyone can happily "double dip" their wraps.