I’m pretty sure I had a lunchtime hankering for a Bánh Mi when I later formed this dish in my head. I’m surprised you don’t find lettuce wraps on more restaurant menus; they’re fairly simple, cheap to make, and variety is limitless. If it works in a salad, it can work in a lettuce wrap. It’s the perfect patio food, utensil free and easy to share with others. I even notice that when I’m done eating, they leave me feeling light & airy, but also strangely satisfied.
Admittedly, I don’t do enough pickling in my life, and it really is a skill I need to acquire more of an appreciation for. It can turn subtle flavored ingredients into real fiery powerhouses while retaining much of their raw texture. I went with an overnight pickling soak for some carrot and daikon, then reused the liquid to quickly & lightly pickle some red cabbage while the meat was grilling.
I try to find methods to utilize leftovers in clever ways, and day-old rice can be used for more than just fried rice. In this particular case, I was using jasmine rice because it’s nice and sticky. I placed a big ball on the counter lined with some plastic wrap, formed a disc shape with my hands, then threw another piece of plastic wrap over the top, before smooshing it all down with a rolling pin. The tricky part is transferring that gentle rice disc into a hot pan full of oil, and by “full,” I mean a good amount of oil, because the rice will absorb a lot of it… I never said this was going to be healthy.
Assertive flavors make for wonderful background players, if that makes sense. Some ingredients are too intense in general or if eaten raw; imparting those flavors into a marinade can make other ingredients shine. The use of a marinade not only introduces flavors; if it’s applied to meat, it helps tenderize the protein by breaking down some of the muscle and connective tissues. If so desired, a little sugar added to your marinade will create some glazing when it comes into contact with those hot cooking surfaces, and the moisture evaporates off.
Summer time is meant for hot grills, eating outdoors with your hands, and not feeling painfully stuffed while it’s warm out. These lettuce wraps tick all of those boxes quite perfectly. The salty charred beef goes wonderfully with the spicy pop of the pickled vegetables. The rice cake provides a glutenous chew, and a squeeze of lime brightens up an already tangy leaf full of food. So go grab some friends, pop a beer or pour some wine, and hang out under that umbrella on the patio with this tasty lettuce wrap in hand.
|1||Each||Carrot||Peeled & Julienned|
|1||Each||Daikon Radish, Medium||Peeled & Julienned|
In a bowl combine; carrot, daikon, jalapeno (and seeds), sugar and salt. Toss to distribute, let sit for 5min. Zest lime and squeeze juice over vegetables. Add vinegar & water and mix. Add to a glass jar, and allow to sit overnight in the refrigerator. Before the beef gets put on the grill, add shredded cabbage to a bowl, and drain the pickling liquid from the carrots onto the cabbage. Mix and allow to soak while the beef is cooking.
|1||Knob||Ginger||Peeled & Crushed|
|2||Stalks||Lemongrass||Tops Trimmed & Crushed|
|2||Cloves||Garlic||Peeled & Crushed|
|1 ½||Lbs||Skirt Steak||Trimmed|
Add everything but the steak to a bowl, and mix to combine. Add beef and allow to marinate for a few hours.
|1||Cup||Jasmine Rice||Cooked & Dried Out|
Put a large piece of plastic wrap on the counter, and add 1/2cup of cooked rice onto the work surface. Add another sheet of plastic wrap over the top, so the rice is sandwiched between. Crush rice down into a disc with a rolling pin. Get a pan hot over medium heat, and add your oil. Transfer the rice disc to the hot pan, and allow to cook till golden and crispy. Flip the cake, and cook on the other side. Cook off the 2nd rice cake.
|1||Head||Bibb Lettuce||Washed & Dried|
|1||Each||Lime||Halved For Garnish|
Pull steak from marinade and pat dry. Grill over coals till desired doneness, allow to rest for a few minutes before slicing. Drain red cabbage from pickling liquid. Slice up rice cake into small slabs.
Serve up the mixture of ingredients on a platter, grab some friend and allow people to make their own wraps.