Shrimp "Banh Mi" with Butter Lettuce


I kind of fell down, or off ... the wagon, the horse, the radar? Who can say, but I fell off, and I've been away for awhile. My apologies. Things are well, I am well - better than I think I ever have been in my whole entire life. Yeah, so there's a bombshell for you.

I think, perhaps, when you feel like you're currently the best you've ever been, it usually means you're coming out of something pretty dreadful. At least that's been the case with me. I won't weigh you down with details right now (maybe later). Right now I just want to share something good to eat. Like this shrimp "banh mi" I've altered in one teensy, tiny way from Melissa Clark's fantastic new cookbook (she's written more than an armful) Dinner: Changing the Game. Guys and dolls, if you EVER struggle with what to put on the dinner table, this is the cookbook for you. Just really good food that's simple with a lot of one-pan/tray options.

If nothing else, buy that delightful cookbook for your dear mother; Mother's Day will be here before you know it.

Many of you know I took out much of my tummy last year. Not on my own, I had some help. Thanks awesome doctors who aren't squeamish looking at blood and guts! Thanks health insurance which covered most (but not all) of the expense! It will be one year on May 15th that I made the decision to get physically healthy and looking back, I would do it all over again. I'm still working on my mental and spiritual health - who would have thought that would be harder than losing weight? I never did.

Back to the tiny tweak in Melissa's shrimp banh mi recipe. I've simply left out the bread and wrapped the lemongrassy, gingery shrimp patties with pickled veg in fresh butter leaves to save my leetle tummy from working overtime processing carbs. Additionally, I patted the "shrimp paste" into oblong patties the length of my palm before cooking them in a skillet, rather than cook all of the shrimp in one solid piece as her recipe called for. I just liked shaping them beforehand to fit my lettuce.

Thanks for sticking around (family, close friends, co-workers and networkers who feel obligated to support this silly blog). I'm gearing up for further in-depth disclosure. But for now, shrimp banh mi!

Shrimp "Banh Mi"
with Butter Lettuce

Adapted from Dinner: Changing the Game / Melissa Clark

Serves 2


2 small carrots, peeled and shredded

1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes

2 jalapenos - one seeded and diced, one thinly sliced for "sammies"

4 teaspoons rice vinegar

Pinch of sugar

Pinch of kosher salt

2 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce (I adore and recommend Red Boat)

Small handful of fresh cilantro, stems and leaves (about 16 sprigs)

2 garlic cloves

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 lemongrass stalk, trimmed, outer layers removed, inner core smashed and chopped (if you can't find fresh lemongrass, look for lemongrass paste in tubes in the produce section of your grocery store - in which case, add two generous teaspoons)

1 small fresh chile (such as Thai or serrano), halved and seeded

8 ounces of shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

Mayonnaise for serving (I love Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise)

Sriracha for serving

Butter (or living) lettuce leaves for serving


  1. In a small bowl, toss together the carrots, radishes, diced jalapeno, 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar, a pinch each of salt and sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce. Stir to combine. Let this hang out while you get the shrimp ready.
  2. In a food processor, combine half the cilantro with the garlic, ginger, lemongrass, chile, and the remaining two teaspoons of fish sauce and rice vinegar. Process until everything is finely chopped. Add the shrimp and pulse the mixture, continually scraping down the sides of the bowl, until you have a chunky mixture.
  3. Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Grab a handful of shrimp paste and shape it into an oblong "pattie" the length of your hand (or a little shorter). Add the pattie to the skillet, pressing it down, and cook until the browned on one side (2-3 minutes). Flip the patties and cook until the second side is brown. Take a little taste and if necessary, season the patties with salt.
  4. Place a pattie (or two!) in a lettuce leaf and garnish with the pickled carrots and radishes. Drizzle with Kewpie mayonnaise and Sriracha and garnish with cilantro and jalapeno to your liking.