Part XV: Hollow
I lied. I know I made a big deal about fire and death and bananas and such in that last post. And I fully plan on executing (hopefully that won’t prove to be a poor choice of wording) that plan pretty damn soon. But I forgot I made something recently that deserves more attention on your plate. Something that’s ignored often enough, mainly because it sounds like the laziest idea for a recipe since Cream of Random Campbell’s Can Soup.
Lettuce wraps start as “oh he ran out of tortillas and made tacos anyway”, and ends with “why the hell didn’t I think of that”. All you need to know is this: cold and warm go well together. Sour cream on a burrito: good. Pecan pie and ice cream: good. Cool boston lettuce and warm ground beef: hell of delicious. So I think it’s about time I introduced you lovely people to them, if you haven’t been already. At the very least you’re probably getting tired of baking by this point, so consider it a brief respite in a vast, vast sea of frosting-y goodness. Here’s some Pork Larb Lettuce Wraps for you. Get ready (and no, I have no idea what larb is…and I’m not gonna take the two seconds it takes to google it. So there.)
Here’s what you need:
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 4 chopped garlic cloves
– 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
– 1/2 pound ground pork
– 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fish sauce
– 1 tablespoon rice
– 2 tablespoons lime juice
– 3 chopped Thai chiles (not everyone’s willing to/can head on down to the Asian market for these, so if you can’t find them, serranos’ll do just fine)
– 2 heads of Boston lettuce
– 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
– 1/4 cup torn Thai basil leaves (again…regular basil’s fine)
– 1/4 cup torn mint leaves
– 1/4 cup torn cilantro leaves
Here’s how you do it:
This one’s a pretty basic asian meat-related recipe, meaning you’re gonna take ground meat of some sort, add garlic and fish sauce, and cook. Pretty basic stuff, and pretty similar to Banh Mi and all it’s delicious glory.
Anyway. Heat up that olive oil on medium, then turn it down a little to medium-low and add your garlic. Stir for a minute until its nice and golden, then add a teaspoon of sugar and cook for another 20 seconds.
Bring your burner up to medium-high and add the good stuff: pork (yes, I know that’s beef up there. It’s all I had. Use pork. Even though you’ll be banished to hell in roughly 2/3 of the religions). Make sure you break it up with a big-ass spoon or something, and let it cook for about three minutes. And make sure none of it’s pink. Obviously. Pink = hospital, unless its a steak, in which case pink = delicious. If you’re observant, you’ll realize this isn’t a steak. If you aren’t, you’ll probably think “hey, this cotton candy tastes funny”. In which case nature’s taking its proper course by killing you off.
Add a teaspoon of fish sauce, add a little salt and pepper, and set the pan aside somewhere.
In the meantime, toast your rice in a small pan until its brown, should be about 3 minutes. Shake it once in a while so you get all those grains nice and toasty. After that, put the rice on a plate, wait for it to cool down, and grind it up in a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle or something grindy like that. If you don’t have any of those things, I don’t know…improvise? Stomp on it with your foot or something, I’m sure nobody’ll notice. Tell them it’s “artisan rice”, they’ll go along with it. “The foot smell means it’s organic!”
In the meantime of the meantime, add your lime juice, 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, a tablespoon each of sugar and water, and 2 of your chiles (or just a handful, whatever). Stir it up until the sugar dissolves.
Heat up your pork again real quick, then take it off the burner and add the cilantro, mint, onion, basil and the other chile (note, I was missing…most of this when I made it. So ignore the lack of flavor in these pictures. I’m lazy.) Next, sprinkle that ground up toasted rice goodness on top.
Stir it all up, put it on your lettuce leaves, wrap, dip, eat, repeat.
You know you gotta wrap these up in some beats too, so stay cool with Polka Dot Bikini from Gypdahip: polka-dot-bikini
Bigger plans for better days, I guess. Sometimes ambition loses itself out to having to eat actual food that isn’t covered in whipped cream and shame. But if you’re gonna make something that actually gives you sustenance, this is a pretty damn good choice. Give it a shot. I’ll see you next time.
Thanks to the good people at Food and Wine for giving me no permission whatsoever to use their recipe.