vietnamese lettuce wraps

Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps with Shrimp

The dust has settled. We just bought our first home and all the crazy anxiety that goes with that process has started to subside. And now that that is done, we have begun the search for good painters and flooring people before we move anything into the house.  The previous owners left behind their legacy with a faint but ever-present smell of old cigarettes.  Removing the smell is a bit more expensive than we guessed, but essential to our happiness in our new home. We’re slowly but surely checking off everything on the list of what must be done before we actually get to live in our little slice of rural paradise. Now the only thing left to do is scale El Capitan with no ropes…

With all the stress of the endless decision making coursing through me, I needed something light and delicious and cleansing for dinner and thinking about the delicious Green Papaya restaurant in Fort Smith put me in a mood for some lettuce wraps and pad Thai. I don’t have a lot of experience with Vietnamese dishes but I love the elemental flavors of the cuisine and I love the way I feel after I eat it. I felt fairly confident about making the pad Thai so I thought I would give the lettuce wraps a go.

lettuce wraps with garlic chili sauce

If you have access to good rice paper, these could be wrapped in that instead of lettuce leaves and turned into spring rolls. I could not find any tonight, so I went for fresh Romaine lettuce instead. The result was equally tasty.

The thing that really gets me with these rolls is the sauces you dip them into. There’s that sweet, spicy, garlicky sauce and the Hoisin sauce and many more that I love to indulge in. The sweet and spicy sauce was very easy to make and adds so much to the lettuce wraps. The key to flavor in these wraps is super fresh ingredients. I have found a great supply of fresh frozen Gulf shrimp that Walmart sells that won’t break the bank. Someday we will have a hut by the ocean and perhaps mine our own shrimp out of the ocean, but until then I shall rely on others to do our maritime bidding.

For the wraps:

  • 4 oz rice noodles
  • 6 large leaves of Romaine lettuce
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and cut into small matchstick pieces

For the shrimp:

  • 8 oz shrimp
  • 1 tsp butter
  • salt
  • garlic powder

For the sauce:

  • 2 tbsp. fish sauce
  • juice of one lime
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp Thai hot sauce (any brand of Thai hot sauce works)
  • hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp. peanuts, crushed
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup chopped mint

lime, carrot, cucumber, mint and cilantro


  1. Heat about one quart of water in a medium pot until it comes to boil. Remove it from the heat and soak the rice noodles in it for 8-10 minutes until soft or al dente. Drain noodles and put them in a pot of cold water.
  2. For the shrimp, thaw, rinse with cold water and pat dry. Heat butter in a pan over medium high heat. Sprinkle salt and garlic powder lightly over shrimp. Saute the shrimp for 3-4 minutes until cooked. Remove from heat.
  3. For the sauce, mix together fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, sugar and hot sauce in a small bowl. In another bowl, pour Hoisin sauce and sprinkle crushed peanuts over the sauce.
  4. To build your wraps, lay the lettuce flat on a plate. Drain rice noodles. Add a small handful of rice noodles, then 3-4 shrimp. Add on some grated carrots, cucumbers, and a few pinches of mint and cilantro. Repeat for 5-6 lettuce wraps, dip in your sauces and savor the flavor!



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