Monday, May 24, 2010

Sheila's Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps - A Delightful Dinner Treat

Sheila's Fabulous Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps...
They may not be gorgeous but they sure taste delicious!

A few weeks ago, we had dinner with our dear friends Bob and Sheila Smith. In the course of eating dinner we had a great conversation about food (what else??????) and Sheila was telling me about some lettuce wraps that she makes that sounded delicious.  She learned about the wraps from a friend of hers, Pauline Tran, and then she combined her recipe, with a recipe that she had at a restaurant in Rhode Island, and came up with a version that she liked.  I told Sheila that I would love to learn how to make  the wraps and she promised that the next time she made them, she would invite us over to learn how to make them.  Tonight, she called and said she was making the wraps and did I want to learn how to make them.  I of course, jumped at the chance to learn something new...

Sheila and Bob Smith

When Sheila was describing the wraps, she kept saying that every time you took a bite, a new taste would pop out and you would savor a new flavor.  I wasn't quite sure what she meant, and although I wanted to learn the technique, I wasn't too sure about the ingredients and how they would combine together.  I was fully prepared to learn the technique, but I really wasn't sure I was going to love this dinner.  There are just nine ingredients needed to make the recipe; lettuce, rice paper wrappers (available from any Asian market), Hoisin sauce, ginger, shrimp, onions, dry roasted peanuts, limes, and toasted coconut.  Now I am not a lover of shrimp, except when they are served hot and stuffed with crabmeat, ginger is another flavor that I am not crazy about either, so I was a little apprehensive - but I thought, why not let's give it a try.

Sheila invited me to go into her garden where she had actually grown the
 lettuce that we would be using to make the wraps...

Here, she had planted Romaine and a red tinged Bibb variety

Back in the kitchen, Sheila washed the lettuce and we prepped the ingredients for the rolls.

 The next step was to take shrimp that had been fully cooked 
(peeled and deveined) and chop it into small pieces.
To make life easy, you can buy it this way at your local grocery store.

Cut each shrimp into three to four pieces 

Set the shrimp aside in a bowl.

The next step is to toast your coconut.  Sheila used a bag of
Angel Flake Coconut and placed it in a pan in her toaster
oven, stirring it several times do that it was evenly toasted.

Continue toasting  and stirring until all the coconut is brown and crunchy.
Place the coconut into a bowl, and set aside.

 The next step was to prepare the lime.  Cut the lime into thin
slices, leaving the rind on, and then dice it into small cubes.
Place the pieces of lime into a small bowl.

Pour the dry roasted peanuts into a bowl, and set aside.

The next step is to prepare the ginger....

Cut the bumps away and peel the ginger; cut into thin slices, and then, dice the
ginger into very small pieces so it is not overpowering.

Place the diced ginger into a bowl and set aside.

Next, peel a medium onion and cut into a small dice.

Place the diced onion into a bowl and set aside

All your ingredients have now been prepped and it's almost time for the
fun to begin, and the rolling to start!

Place some Hoisin sauce into a small bowl

Open your Rice Paper Wrappers carefully...

This is what the wrapper will look like - it is very rigid at this point...

Place the wrapper under running water to dampen it on both sides

Make sure your counter top or work area is clean and then, place the dampened
rice paper wrapper on the counter.

Gently, rub your fingers over the wrapper to make sure it is completely dampened.

Start to add your lettuce, placing it into the middle of the circle

Add another layer...

or two....

Sprinkle a few pieces of shrimp on top of the lettuce

Sprinkle some of the lime pieces on top of shrimp

Then, sprinkle the onions on top of the lime

Sprinkle on a little ginger

Add the peanuts...

Sprinkle on the toasted coconut

Spread some of the Hoisin sauce on one side of the circle 

Begin to roll the lettuce.  Starting at the end opposite the
Hoisin sauce, start to roll and press down 

About half-way through, turn the sides in...

and continue rolling

Roll until you get to the end, the rice paper will stick to itself...

Sheila shows off the finished product...

Figure on three to four wraps per person as a main course...

Here I am rocking and a rollin'...

I know know what Sheila means, when she said they pop as you eat them.
 Each bite delivers a new taste,
one minute it's the shrimp, then, the coconut, ginger, peanuts, and the Hoison sauce.

This is a fun thing to make for a dinner party, everyone can make their own, to their
own specifications.  I love the Hoison sauce, peanuts and coconut, and so I
made mine a little heavier on those things.  I could not stop saying how delicious these were.

 This is also great in the summer because you can have a fast dinner and not turn the oven on.  It is also versatile. I think I would like to try it with a rotisserie chicken the next time as well as the shrimp.  I also think that a little finely chopped mango mightalso give it a wonderful flavor!  

This was so much fun...

Thanks again Bob and Sheila for a wonderful evening
and for a wonderful friendship!

Vietnamese Wraps on Foodista


  1. It looks really good! Wish I had one right now. My mom loved making this and I remember her adding some thinly sliced turnips and carrots to it.She'd give the peanuts a spin in the food processor first...*sigh*I have to make this real soon :)

  2. If it were up to me, I'd just put the peanuts, coconut, and Hoison sauce - yummmm. I really enjoyed these.

  3. This looks soooo good. An old friend of mine made something like this and I'm longing for it!

  4. Erik,
    they ate really easy to do, give them a try.