"What's for dinner, Mom?"

"What's for dinner, Mom?"

It's a question I hear at least 3 times a day.

Most of the time, I have to crank something out pretty quickly, because of school, bedtimes and all that of other stuff that comes a long with having 3 elementary school aged kids.

Last night's creation was inspired by my mother in law who comes to visit once a year and stays for a week -- or more. My kids love it and it's pretty quick to throw together. Lettuce wraps! (Or Laap, if your feeling Thai.)

My MIL uses ground turkey, ground beef or ground chicken which, are all delicious. However, last night, I used the STRIPED BASS a friend gave me, fresh out of the San Joaquin River, still flopping!

It was damn delicious!

After the kids were done poking at the fish, and telling it how delicious it was about to become, I cleaned it up real quick, sprinkled it with salt and white pepper and stuffed it with basil and sliced key limes. Then, I steamed it for about 13 minutes.

I removed the meat from the bones and tossed it, skin side down, into a hot, lightly oiled skillet to crisp up the skin; then I broke up the large chunks, added 2 tablespoons of toasted rice powder and 1/4 cup lime juice, 3 tablespoons Nom Pla (aka fish sauce)* and bit of sugar then let it cook up for a bit. Normally I would add chopped Thai chillies here, but 2 of my kids don't appreciate the burn your face off in food just yet.

After removing it from the heat, I added cilantro leaves and thin-sliced red onions.

I mixed up some Devil Sauce for me, my husband and my oldest daughter:
  • 10 Thai chilies, murdered in a mortal and pestle
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • juice of 6 key limes or (just one regular lime)
  • and about 1/4 cup or just a bit less of fish sauce.

The kids like to wrap theirs up in big pieces of Iceberg lettuce along with steamed rice, but I like mine in a bowl with the lettuce chopped up.

Oh yeah! I nearly forgot, Let's talk toasted rice powder for a minute:

You can buy it in an Asian grocery store for about $3. I make my own. It doesn't have any weird preservatives, it costs about a penny, and it's super easy to make.

In a pan, that is NOT non stick, add about 1 cup of uncooked/dry rice and heat it over medium heat, keep it moving until it turns pale brown, remove it from the pan onto a plate as soon as it becomes a light toasty brown color. Let it cool down a while. When it's cool enough to handle, grind it with a mortar and pestle until it is a fine powder. I use my stick blender to save my wrists. Store in a cool dry place in an airtight container.

If I had some dried Kaffir lime leaves on hand I would have ground one up with the rice. There's always next time.

~Happy cooking, 99%BitterSweet

* Editors note: while "nom pla" is not the origin of the colloquial "nom", in our opinion is might as well be.


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