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Nigella's Thai Crumbled Beef Bison in Lettuce Wraps--Fully Loaded for Good Taste & Good Health

Posted Jan 06 2010 2:01am

"Resolutions" is our theme this week at "I Heart Cooking Clubs." I have mixed feelings about resolutionsmainly because Ilike others have made many a long list of them for the new year in the past and they generally don't last through the spring. On the other hand to not have any resolutions/goals/commitments (or whatever you like to call them) set for yourself and expect to actually see any changes in your life is an exercise in futility. So for me it is not about making annual "resolutions" but more about periodically taking stock of where I amdecide where I want to be and then setting small achievable goals or action steps will that get me there --whether that be in Januaryat the start of a new seasonor whenever I feel the need. Last year about this time (see post here)I set a goal of cleaning up my food act and focusing this blog and my cooking and eating on healthier food choices the majority of the timewith the occasional indulgence thrown in. (I give myself a B+ for the year. Overall I kept it pretty healthy but the indulgences snuck in a little more often than I wanted!)

This past OctoberI recommitted to that earlier goal and I added a few additional action steps to help achieve a happierhealthier me. More manifesto than resolutions! ;-) I won't share them all for fear of boring you but a few that pertain directly to this blog are:
  • I will put my focus not just on foods that I love but on foods that love me backthat nourish me and fuel my body.
  • I will eat as much locally-grownwholeand organic food as possible utilizing my CSA boxfarmers marketsmy co-op and natural foods stores for the bulk of my groceries.
  • I will create my own healthy recipes or make healthy changes to the other recipes I make and load them up with healthy and nutritionally dense ingredients.
  • I will continue to prove to myself & others that healthy food can be delicious and fun.

On that noteI chose Nigella's Thai Crumbled Beef in Lettuce Wrapsnot a bad recipe as written by Nigellabut easily improved in healthiness and taste with a few additions. Leangrass-fed bison replaces the beefadds more protein and reduces the fatlocal Manoa green leaf lettuce replaces the yellow/white iceberg lettucered bell peppercarrots and cucumber add colortexture and nutrientsand a small sprinkling of unsalted peanuts add extra protein and crunch. I also added some thin rice noodles drizzled in a little hot chili-garlic oil to bulk the wraps out a bit and make them more of a meal. There is nothing boring or flavorless about these lettuce wraps!

This recipe can be found in Forever Summer (pages 10-11) or on Nigella's site here. My changes / additions are in red below.

Nigella says: "Given that I made this out of my head rather than out of a bookI don't know how authentically Thai it isbut I do know it's authentically wonderful. What I was going after was that first course (among many) I always order in Thai restaurantsof crumbled meatquite drysoup-sharp with chiliwhich you eat by scooping with crunchyboat shaped lettuce leaves.

You may need to be rather brutal with the lettuce as you tear the leaves off to provide the edible wrappers for the beefwhich is why I specify one to two icebergs. If you wan to perk the leaves up a littlemaking sure they curve into appropriate repositories for laterleave them in a sink full of very cold water while you cook the minced beefthen make sure you drain them well before piling them up on their plate."

Thai Crumbled Beef Bison in Lettuce Wraps
Nigella Lawson
(Serves 6--as appetizer)

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 red birdeye or other smallhot red chilliesfinely chopped
3/4 lb (375g) ground beef (Used buffalo / bison instead)
scant tablespoon Thai fish sauce
4 scallionsdark green bits removed (and set aside)finely chopped
zest and juice of 1 lime
3–4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1–2 small heads iceberg lettuce (Used green leaf lettuce)
8 ounces thin rice noodles prepared to package instructions and drizzled with chili oil
1/2 red bell pepper julienned
1 medium carrotjulienned
1/2 cucumberjulienned
chopped green scallions

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 minutesstirring occasionally. It’s wiser not to leave the panas you don’t want them to burn. Add the beefturn up the heat andbreaking up the meat with a wooden spoon or forkcook for 3 or 4 minutes till no trace of pink remains. Add the fish sauce andstill stirringcook till the liquid’s evaporated. Off the heatstir in the scallionszest and juice of the lime and most of the cilantro. Turn into a bowland 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 – and let people indulge in a little DIY at the tablefilling cold crisp leaves with spoonfuls of sharpspicyhotcrumbled meatnoodlesvegetablesand peanuts.

Notes/Results: I forgot how much I really love good lettuce wraps and how quick and easy they are. I should be making/eating them more often! These were delicious--spicysavorytangy and had great texture with the warm meat and noodles with the crunchycold veggies. The green leaf lettuce worked welleven if a bit messy with all the toppings--for even more nutritional value kalecollard greens or chard could be used as the wrapper. Although I used ground bison because I really love the taste and the leannesslean ground beefground turkey breast or minced tofu would work equally well. I served these with Sunday's Curried Yellow Pepper Soup for a healthy dinner. These are way better than the ones at my local Thai restaurant and I will make them again. And if you compare these wraps to the picture of Nigella's version on the website--with all the healthy additions I think they look even tastier! (Come on--eat the rainbow Nigella!) ;-)

Nigella's Original Version

Fully Loaded Wraps from Kahakai Kitchen

You can see what recipes the other IHCC participants selected to represent their "resolutions" by going to the IHCC site here and following the links.

So what do you think about resolutions? Do you make them or have another process to set goals for yourself?

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