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Sticky Caramelized Shrimp Lettuce Wrap

  • SERVES: 4
  • PREP: 25 minutes
  • TOTAL TIME: 40 minutes

It's like P.F. Changs meets Vietnamese takeout.

The absolute star of this dish is Vietnamese fish sauce caramel, a deeply flavorful sauce that is basically that it sounds like: fish sauce and brown sugar cooked down until you have a caramelized sweet-and-sticky glaze that goes perfectly with all different kinds of seafood, especially big plump shrimp. This recipe was such a hit the first time I made it, we ended up eating the shrimp straight out of the pan!

For this book, I wanted to take these crispy caramelized shrimp to another level—sort of Vietnamese meets Thai meets P.F. Chang’s takeout—so we wrapped them in lettuce leaves along with quick-pickled radishes and carrots and tossed them with some garlic, chile powder, scallions, hand-crushed peanuts. WOW.

We went from eating out of the pan to fighting over the last lettuce cup. A note about the shrimp: I’ve called for peeled here, but since the shells will soften after they’re cooked in the caramel, you can also use the shell-on kind and eat them whole if you’re into that.

Reprinted from The Pepper Thai Cookbook Copyright © 2021 by Vilailuck Teigen Photographs copyright © 2021 by Jenny Huang. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.

For the pickles:

  • ¼ cup hot water

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • Kosher salt

  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar

  • 1 medium carrot, julienned

  • 4 medium red radishes, julienned

For the shrimp:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 6 cloves garlic, minced ½ teaspoon Roasted Chile Powder (page 226) 1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp Kosher salt

  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice, lemon juice, or white vinegar

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce

  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce

  • ¼ teaspoon

  • freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced

  • ¼ cup unsalted roasted peanuts, chopped

For the lettuce wraps:

  • 12 Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves

  • ½ English cucumber, peeled and cut into 2-inch matchsticks

  • Cilantro leaves

  • 2 cups cooked jasmine rice, warmed (optional)

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