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Thailand-inspired Crispy Shrimp Lettuce Wraps

by Gretchen McKay, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS) | May 11, 2022 at 1:58 a.m.
Cornstarch-dusted fried shrimp is the star of these easy-to-compose lettuce wraps with pickled veggies. (TNS/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/Gretchen McKay)

Spring brings with it a bounty of fresh greens, including tender baby lettuces and good-for-you crunchy carrots. For a quick and easy dish, I love to use both in Thai-inspired lettuce wraps.

These wraps feature crispy fried shrimp that get their delicate, golden-brown crust from a quick dip in cornstarch, plus the bright acidic crunch of quick-pickled veggies and thin slices of cucumber.

A slather of hot sauce-spiked mayonnaise ties it all together to create a satisfying, handheld mix of salty + sweet + spicy.

I used Hank's Heat Hot Sauce to add some kick to the mayo, but Sriracha or sweet chili sauce would work just as well.

You should not see the shrimp under the cornstarch after you dredge it, so you may have to press gently with your fingers to get it to firmly adhere. I used two shrimp per wrap.

Crispy Shrimp Lettuce Wraps

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
  • 1 Fresno chile, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • Hot sauce, to taste (I used 1 tablespoon)
  • 16 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 1 pound), tails removed
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 head Bibb lettuce leaves, washed and dried
  • ½ English cucumber, very thinly sliced
  • Fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • Lime wedges, for serving

Place carrot, chile and vinegar in a small bowl; stir to combine. Let marinate while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

In a 12-inch cast-iron or heavy skillet, heat 1 inch of oil over medium-high until sizzling.

Meanwhile, add mayonnaise and hot sauce to a small bowl; mix with fork until well combined.

Season shrimp generously with salt and pepper. Dip in milk, then dredge in cornstarch until shrimp is covered. Working in two batches, fry shrimp one side at a time until crispy, pink and cooked through, about 2 minutes total. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread some of the flavored mayonnaise on the center of each lettuce leaf, then top with a few cucumber slices and some pickled carrot. Add two shrimp on top, and garnish with cilantro.

Serve with lime wedges and additional mayo, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.


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