You got me! The name Bánh mì is a Vietnamese term for “all kinds of bread” and this recipe doesn’t have any bread in sight. Honestly, I didn’t really know what the heck to call these tasty little Bánh mì inspired lettuce wraps…salad cups? No. I wouldn’t read a post titled salad cups and these are SO good that you will be glad you read it. I promise! Here is the thing; I really like the flavors of a Bánh mì sandwich. The slightly pickled vegetables, paired with cool crisp cucumbers, a savory sauce, and cilantro. I mean hello, who couldn’t get behind that?
These lettuce wraps are a wink and a nudge to the traditional sandwich with a little surprise ingredient that I have been playing around with in the kitchen lately, coconut. Not shredded, or flaked, fresh coconut meat marinated and sliced really thin. It really gives these salad cups a little “meaty” oomph.
I know you are assuming that I whacked away at a coconut to get the meat, but I didn’t. My Whole Foods sells fresh coconut meat already separated from the shell and cut into manageable chunks. If you have a Whole Foods close to you check in the produce section where they keep the sliced and cubed fruit and veggies. Now, if you don’t have access to a Whole Foods or don’t like coconut it’s OK… I won’t hold it against you. You can marinate tofu in the same sauce and cook it however you like for the wraps. Grilled or pan fried would probably be my choice.
Maybe you are wondering why in the heck I started playing around with fresh coconut in savory dishes. Well, remember when we made coconut bacon last week and I told you about one of my favorite restaurant’s in LA, Gracias Madre? Well, they served us the most amazing vegan ceviche tostadas when we visited there with all sorts of amazing fresh vegetables, coconut, and small strips of seaweed in place of the fish. It was mind blowing and obviously my visit there has fueled a full on love affair with all things coconut.
In case you are wondering, fresh coconut isn’t sweet at all and when you marinate it, it takes on the flavor of the sauce it is in. The best advice I have for using raw coconut meat is to cut it into very thin pieces. Too much coconut can be intense to chew because it is very dense.
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 1 tablespoon Tamari
- ½ tablespoon coconut sugar
- ½ tablespoon lemongrass paste
- ¼- 1 whole Thai chile, depending on how much heat you like, thinly sliced ( These chiles are extremely hot!!! Be careful how much you use!!)
- Juice of half of a lime
- 2 cups very thinly sliced fresh coconut meat
- ¼ cup vegetable broth
- ½ cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked for 2-4 hours, drained and rinsed
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon red Thai curry paste
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 small daikon, cut into strips with a vegetable peeler
- 2 carrots cut into strips with a vegetable peeler
- ¾ cup rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 head of bibb, butter, or iceberg lettuce, leaves removed, washed, and thoroughly dried
- Thinly sliced cucumber
- Thai chile, sliced thin (if you don't want any heat leave these out. They are HOT!)
- Scallions, sliced white and green parts
- Cilantro leaves
- Sprouts, I used an Asian mix from Whole Foods
- Combine all of the ingredients except for the coconut meat in a mixing bowl and mix well with a whisk to combine. Add the thinly sliced coconut meat and marinate for 1 -3 hours at room temperature before serving in lettuce wraps.
- Combine all of the ingredients in the order listed into a high speed blender or food processor fitted with the “S” blade. Blend, scraping the sides as necessary until silky smooth.
- Mix the vinegar, sugar, and salt together in a mixing bowl until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add the prepared carrots and daikon, toss to coat and set aside for 20 minutes.
- To build your lettuce wraps layer the marinated coconut meat, cucumbers, pickled veggies into a leaf of lettuce, and drizzle the curried cashew cream over the top. Then sprinkle cilantro and sprouts over the top.
Hungry for more lettuce wrap action? Try my Asian Lettuce Wraps with Homemade Hoisin Sauce!