In this savory dish, the wide, silken rice noodles absorb the spicy, sweet-and-sour peanut sauce. To save time, make the sauce early; it will last up to a week when refrigerated in a sealed container. Fish sauce and chili-garlic sauce are readily available in most supermarkets.
Spicy Pad Thai in Lettuce Wraps
- SPICY PEANUT SAUCE
- 1/2 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2-3 fresh chili peppers, seeded and minced such as jalapeño or serrano
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons minced white onion
- 1/4 cup unsalted creamy peanut butter
- 1/4 cup soy milk
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- LETTUCE WRAPS
- 3/4 pound medium raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, and diced
- 8 ounces wide rice noodles, fresh or dry
- 2 heads iceberg or butter lettuce
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 cups sunflower greens or daikon radish sprouts, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup diced red pepper
- Fish sauce and pepper to taste
- Cilantro leaves for garnish
- Chili-garlic sauce for dipping; optional
- To make peanut sauce: In a small saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic, chili peppers, ginger, and onion. Sauté until onion softens, 4-5 minutes. Add peanut butter, soy milk, and lemon juice. Cook, stirring, until sauce is hot and peanut butter melts, 1-2 minutes. Pour mixture into a blender or food processor and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Let cool.
- Combine marinade ingredients. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer. While shrimp marinates, cook rice noodles until barely soft. Drain and rinse with cold water to prevent sticking. Set aside.
- Cut out lettuce cores and separate leaves. Cut leaves into 4-inch squares to make "cups." Arrange lettuce on a large serving plate.
- Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp. Stir-fry until shrimp turns opaque, about 2 minutes. Add sprouts and red pepper; stir-fry for 30 seconds. Stir in noodles and peanut sauce. Mix thoroughly. Season with fish sauce and pepper. Transfer to serving dish. Garnish with cilantro leaves.
- To serve, place about 3 tablespoons noodle mixture into a lettuce leaf cup, wrap, and eat by hand. Dip in chili-garlic sauce, if desired.
Ying Chang Compestine is the author of several children's books, including The Story of Noodles (Holiday House, 2002), The Runaway Wok ( Dutton Books for Young Readers, 2011) and Boy Dumplings (Immedium, 2016); and cookbooks, including Secrets from a Healthy Asian Kitchen (Avery Penguin Putnam, 2002) and Cooking with an Asian Accent (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014).