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Food: Beware the Jalapeno (Thai Lettuce Cups)

July 12, 2011

I made this dish last night, looking for an easy dinner that would require a minimum amount of time over heat/in the kitchen. The finished product was delicious – full of fragrant, cooling ginger and lime – but the preparation proved slightly dangerous. Let me make it clear: when you seed the jalapeno, immediately throw out the seeds, wash your knife, and wash your hands. Don’t take the chance of contaminating your peach with heat, or your eyes with a burning sensation. Not that either of those things happened to me.

This is, again, a recipe to which you can add or subtract ingredients to your personal preference. You may want to include fish sauce as part of the soy/sugar/lime mixture – if you have it, go ahead and add a teaspoon. You may want to add cilantro, chopped mushrooms, peanuts, or sprouts – all of these would be great additions. You could substitute the peach I used with a nectarine, apricots, rainier cherries, or nothing. I added water chesnuts because I like the crunch, but you could use extra carrots or bamboo shoots. Finally, my recipe calls for white meat ground turkey, but dark meat turkey or any type of ground chicken would work just as well.

Thai Lettuce Cups
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 lime, cut in half
1 shallot
1 clove garlic
1 small (1 inch) piece ginger, peeled
1 small jalapeno or serrano pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
1 lb ground turkey (white meat)
1/2 bunch scallions, diced
1 carrot, diced
1/2 cup water chesnuts, diced
1 peach, diced
Bibb or Boston Lettuce

Combine soy sauce, juice of half of the lime, and sugar in a small bowl, stir, set aside. Put shallot, ginger, jalapeno, and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Saute shallot mixture (use olive oil, chicken broth, or vegetable oil) in a large pan over low-medium heat until fragrant. Add water chesnuts, carrots, scallions, and ground turkey, cook until turkey  is browned, continuously breaking up meat with a spoon. Add soy sauce mixture, stir. Finish with juice from other half of lime. Serve in Bibb lettuce (or just in a bowl, or on top of rice, or in pita bread), top with diced peaches. Voila.

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