On those nights when take-out is the only option (we’re looking at you, deadline week), Thai food is our not-so-guilty go-to meal. In Everyday Thai Cooking, a new cookbook out this week by L.A. food writer Katie Chin, Chin encourages us to whip up that coconutty tom kah gai soup and pad Thai ourselves, instead. From glass noodles to shaking beef, Chin’s myriad of recipes are made all the more approachable by utilizing everyday ingredients that most of us have on hand. Take Chin’s Chiang Mai Chicken in Lettuce Cups: with only three steps, and calling for kitchen staples such as cilantro, ground chicken, and crushed red pepper, the dish is easy enough to sub in for any old taco night. “Bold. Exotic. Diverse. Pungent. Sweet. Sour. Salty. Hot. Sometimes bitter. Crunchy. Bright. Fragrant. Soothing. Unique. Alive. All these words and more come to mind when I think of Thai food,” writes Chin. We’re sold.
Chiang Mai Chicken in Lettuce Cups
By Katie Chin, Everyday Thai Cooking
Serves 4 as an appetizer or snack
2 tablespoons oil
2 teaspoons minced galangal or fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 fresh red or green chili, preferably Thai, finely sliced (deseeded if you prefer less heat)
1/2 pound ground chicken
1/2 cup canned chopped water chestnuts, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander leaves (cilantro)
1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion (scallion), white and green parts
1 tablespoon minced lemongrass
1 tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 large butter lettuce leaves
1. Heat the oil in a wok or skillet on moderately high heat. Add the galangal, garlic and chili and stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add ground chicken and stir-fry for 4 minutes. Add water chestnuts and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
2. Add the fresh coriander leaves green onion, lemongrass, fish sauce, crushed red pepper and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. Dish out and transfer to a serving bowl.
3. Serve chicken mixture with lettuce leaves and Ginger Lime Dipping Sauce, allowing guests to form their own wraps.
Ginger Lime Dipping Sauce
Makes 1 cup
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon rice vinegar or white vinegar
2 teaspoons fish Sauce (nam pla)
1 fresh hot red or green pepper, preferably Thai, deseeded and finely sliced
1. Bring sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cool slightly.
2. Mix 1/4 cup of the syrup with the ginger, lime juice, vinegar, fish sauce, and chill in a small bowl. Transfer to a small serving bowl.
3. Discard the remaining syrup.
Note: If you can’t find Thai chilies, Chin recommends using jalapeno or Serrano chilies.