A Nigel Slater recipe, this is my kind of finger food; fiery, fragrant, citrusy nuggets of grilled chicken (or beef, or pork) wrapped in a soft lettuce leaf – just big enough for one or two bites.
It’s also very easy to make – once you’ve assembled all the marinade ingredients, combine everything in a Ziploc bag or shallow dish, cover and chill for a minimum of 30 mins – up to 24 hrs.
You can grill outside or under the broiler/oven grill but I prefer to use a very heavy cast-iron ridge-based stovetop pan. The one I use is made in the USA by ‘Lodge’ -(for non-US readers, I’m sure you have something similar over there) and they’re a worthwhile investment as they aren’t expensive and you’ll have it for years; they retain the heat really well and you’ll get those nice crisscross scorch marks on the meat.
I like to use grape-seed oil – it has a high smoke point which makes it perfect for cooking at high temperatures.
GRILLED LEMONGRASS CHICKEN LETTUCE WRAPS
(Serves 1 or 2-4 as an appetizer)
8 oz (250g) of organic boneless chicken breast or thigh meat
Groundnut or grape-seed oil
Lime for squeezing
Soft (Butter) lettuce leaves
For the marinade:
One stalk of lemongrass, chopped
Juice of 2 large limes
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 large or 4 small shallots, finely chopped
One tablespoon of nam-pla (Thai fish sauce)
One teaspoon of sugar
2 small hot red chilies, sliced finely
One tablespoon of groundnut or grape-seed oil
One tablespoon of toasted sesame oil
One teaspoon of sesame seeds
Slice the chicken into one-or-two-bite sized chunks. Put the chicken in a shallow dish or a Ziploc bag. Combine all the marinade ingredients together and add to the chicken, making sure everything is well coated.
The marinade is pretty pungent so if you’re marinating in a dish be sure it’s well sealed. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
Brush a heavy grill pan with grape-seed or groundnut oil and when really hot, add the chicken pieces (don’t overcrowd them or they wont brown, they’ll steam) – cook a couple of minutes each side until fragrant and golden and no longer pink in the middle.
Eat immediately with a squeeze of fresh lime, each piece wrapped in a lettuce leaf.