You know your meal is going to be delicious when the story of its creation is even better. This my friends, is one of those meals. It all started a few years back at the wonderful Wendell Berry House (the honor house I lived in in college, also the birth place of my passion for cooking). My dear friend Aika and I were cooking dinner one evening and she taught me how to cook chicken lettuce wraps. And oh how delectable they were! Well, after a few years of going without chicken lettuce wraps, it just so happened that Aika came to visit us. As luck would have it, she still remembered the recipe and we decided to make it for dinner while she’s here.
As with any good food story, there was a small turn of events. While we were in Northeast Minneapolis visiting Art-A-Whirl (a fantastic art festival), we stumbled upon a very large bookshelf full of books. At first we thought that it was part of an art piece, however as luck would have it, it turned out all the books were free for the taking. And yes, they had cookbooks and this is where we got the idea to take a little Thai spin on our traditional chicken lettuce wraps: Thai coconut chicken with green beans and shredded carrots, served over a bed of coconut rice, and all wrapped into a little bundle of lettuce-joy.
For the Chicken
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons oyster sauce (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons corn starch
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into small pieces, seasoned with salt & pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil (or coconut oil)
1 cup green beans, diced and blanched
1 cup green bell pepper
1 cup shredded carrots
1 tablespoon garlic
For the Garnish
1 cup basil leaves, chopped
2 teaspoons jalapeno, thinly sliced
1/2 cup green onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup toasted cashews and coconut flakes
serve on green lettuce leaves
For the Rice
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup coconut milk
2 teaspoons agave
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup brown rice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Beginning with the rice, bring the broth, coconut milk, agave and sea salt to a boil.
Add in the rice and reduce heat to simmer.
Cook covered for 40-45 min, or until the liquid is absorbed.
Once cooked, remove from heat and let the rice sit covered for 5 minutes.
Next, fluff the rice with a fork and add lime juice.
Combine the first 6 ingredients and mix until smooth.
It can often be difficult to get the corn starch to dissolve.
If this is the case, heat a little bit of the broth over the stove and add the corn starch, mixing constantly until dissolved.
Make sure to add this back with the rest of the ingredients before moving forward.
Next, wash the chicken pieces thoroughly and pat dry.
Season with salt and pepper.
Heat the pan over high heat and add the olive (or coconut) oil.
Once hot, add chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, or until lightly golden.
Remove from heat and set aside.
In a medium-sized pot, heat a dash of oil over medium-high heat.
Add the green beans, peppers, shredded carrots and garlic and saute for 3-4 minutes.
Add the cooked chicken and saute for another 2-3 minutes.
If the chicken is starting to stick to the bottom of the pan, reduce the heat to medium.
Add the coconut milk mixture to the chicken, stirring constantly.
Let this cook for 2-3 minutes.
This will allow all the flavors to combine. Remove from heat and stir in basil and jalapeno.
When both the rice and chicken are ready, serve on top of green lettuce and garnish with fresh lime, bean sprouts and toasted cashews/coconut. Enjoy!
For more from Katherine, be sure to visit Simply Delectable Food.