Peanut Butter Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps

Does anyone really not like Peanut Butter? I have an infatuation with it. With chocolate, on toast, in cookies, mixed into an icing, added to a curry sauce, and strait out of the jar. I have such a fondness for it. I have tried to eat it with just about anything and I am not ashamed to admit it. Yes, some combos have been better than others but that has never stopped me.  I adore Peanut Butter! One day as I was looking through the cookbooks at a book store I came across a Peanut Butter Cookbook. I could not put it down as I scanned through the pages.  I must be honest that this is not the type of cookbook I would usually buy, it was not from an acclaimed restaurant or from some top notch chef - but there was something about it that really caught my attention. I purchased it and on the way home was already making a list of new recipes to try. Low and behold all the recipes I couldn’t wait to test out were savory; and that is when I realized why I was so attracted to this book. I knew so many sweet things I could do with Peanut Butter, but always felt unsure of savoy experiments.

After a few stabs at several of the recipes there was one that my husband and I really enjoyed. It was a Vietnamese Lettuce Wrap, with beef filling that was dressed in a Peanut Butter sauce. It literally is fantastic. A bit of Asian spice, a bit of sweetness, crisp lettuce, and a refreshing lime squeeze …It will make your taste buds dance with delight.  When my husband’s niece Lora was visiting us a few years ago I made them with her and she loved them. She could not wait to serve them to her parents and grandparents to try. They loved it and all went back for seconds.  Low and behold we made a vegetarian version and no one could tell they were eating soy and not beef – the Peanut Butter sauce is that good!

Below I have included recipe for the lettuce wraps. This is a quick and simple meal, full of flavor, and really satisfying. It is great just for something simple, and eaten as an appetizer. You can add some Jasmine Rice and make it a fuller meal too. Either way I am sure you will love it. Even if you are not a devote Peanut Butter lover like myself. Like I have said, everyone I have made this for has enjoyed it.  Give it a try and see for yourself.

Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps (serves 4 – 6)

1 – 2 tbsp of vegetable oil

4 scallions, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 ½ tbsp of minced ginger

1 jalapeno or serrano chili, minced

1 pound of ground beef, chicken, or soy crumbles

¼ cup lime juice, freshly squeezed

1 – 2 tsp of chili sauce

1 tbsp of brown sugar

1 tbsp of soy sauce

½ cup of peanut butter, crunchy or smooth

2 heads of Boston lettuce, large & medium leaves removed and washed

Garnish: sliced radish, sliced cucumber, lime wedges, fresh cilantro, and fresh mint

Jasmine Rice, optional

First; place a large sauté pan over high heat. Once pan is hot place oil in and heat through. Add in your ginger and garlic and simmer until fragrant, stirring occasionally. Add in your scallions and chili and stir to combine. Let all simmer about 2 – 3 minutes together, but do not let it brown (you might want to lower your heat to a medium).

Next; in a bowl whisk together your peanut butter, lime juice, chili sauce, brown sugar, soy sauce and ¼ - ½ cup of water until smooth. (Being that the peanut butter is stiff you need to thin it out a bit with water to make a nice smooth sauce.) In your sauté pan over medium heat add in your beef, chicken or soy. Brown it lightly until is it cooked through. Pour your peanut butter mixture over it and stir well. Once your mixture is simmering and heated through you can remove it from the heat and begin plating.

Finally; you can arrange the lettuce wraps or you can make your guests do it themselves. Be sure to have your lettuce and filling along with your assorted garnishes. This is great when eaten warm, but just as great when eaten at room temperature. Do not forget to add your lime- and if you like you can add more chili sauce. Enjoy!