The third easy dish I made for my dinner with friends was Nigella Lawson’s Thai Crumbled Beef in Lettuce Wraps. I first came across this dish when I bought Nigella’s Forever Summer cookbook in 2003. I have made many wonderful dishes from that cookbook, and this one remains one of my favorites.
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 2 red chillies (birds eye) finely chopped
- 375 grams (0.83 lbs) ground beef
- 1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
- 4 spring onions (dark green bits removed, finely chopped)
- 1 lime (zest and juice)
- 4 tbsp coriander/cilantro (chopped)
- 2 iceberg lettuce
- Put the oil in a non-stick frying pan on medium heat and when warm add the finely chopped chillies and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep an eye on them so that they don’t burn.
- Add the beef, turn up the heat and, breaking it up with a wooden spoon or fork, cook for 3 or 4 minutes until no trace of pink remains.
- Add the fish sauce and, still stirring, cook until the liquid’s evaporated.
- Off the heat, stir in the spring onions, zest and juice of the lime and most of the coriander.
- Turn into a bowl, and sprinkle over the remaining coriander just before serving.
- Arrange the iceberg lettuce leaves on another plate – they should sit one on top of another easily enough. let people indulge in a little DIY at the table, filling cold crisp leaves with spoonfuls of sharp, spicy, hot, crumbled meat.
I found all of the ingredients at the Publix on Miami Beach (5th street location), with the exception of the red chillies. Those I found at the Whole Foods on Miami Beach, only they didn’t have any more red chillies, only green and orange (almost red), so I got those instead. Regarding the Thai fish sauce, in the past I have not used it, opting instead for extra lime or even a splash of tabasco, but this time I used it and my guests liked it! It didn’t taste “fishy” at all.
For the lettuce, Nigella is more eloquent than I am in explaining the procedure, so I’ll let her do it:
You may need to be rather brutal with the lettuce as you tear the leaves off to provide the edible wrappers for the beef, which is why I specify one to two icebergs. If you want to perk the leaves up a little, making sure they curve into appropriate respositories for later, leave them in a sinkful of very cold water while you cook the minced beef, then make sure you drain them well before piling them up on their plate.
This is a dish that is great as an appetizer or a main dish. It is so easy to make, on the healthy side and great tasting. As Nigella says, “…let people indulge in a little DIY at the table, filling cold crisp leaves with spoonfuls of sharp, spicy, hot, crumbled meat.”