One of our favorites was Mai Thai. It may not be the most authentic Thai restaurant, even in a place like Boise, but at the time it featured lots of flavors that we weren't used to, and its prices were pretty great before they caught on. Also, it's beautiful.
|From Mai Thai's Website. I did not take these photos.|
Then it just sort of stopped. The babysitter who took care of Boy during the days was just that-a babysitter. We had to switch to daycare which, given the state of our budget, pretty much meant that Wife had to work at a daycare. We were able to avoid a major expense, but it still caused a significant pay cut. It also took her out of downtown; out of sight, out of mind. We didn't eat there for years.
Then along came some holiday or special occasion; I really don't remember which. One of Wife's aunts gave us a gift certificate to eat at the new location they had opened in Eagle (now defunct.) My typical choice would be something both large and spicy, but we had chosen to go on a day when we didn't have any money outside the gift card, and neither wife or I planned on forsaking bubble tea. Wife wanted to take advantage of a rare opportunity to eat shrimp (I'm allergic,) so I played the sweet husband and ordered something inexpensive to make it possible.
That something was their lettuce wraps. They aren't the ones currently on Mai Thai's menu (listed as: sauteed chicken with red bell peppers, water chestnuts & green onion topped with crispy vermicelli noodle and served with butter leaves,) but instead had minced ginger, cashew, coconut, and a sweet soy dipping sauce to accompany the chicken. What had started as settling ended up a memorable meal, and Wife was more enamored with my food than her own. I vowed to make them at home. Then I promptly didn't.
More years passed. I never quite forgot the wraps, but they were never on the front of my mind. Then along came the wave of motivation that inspired me to start blogging again. Along with it came a need for healthier meals, especially lunches. We started making an excellent quinoa salad Mother-In-Law had suggested to us, and serving it alongside chicken for a healthy boost. Then one morning (I work at night) I had a few too many beers and devastated the quinoa. With not much time before Wife's lunch break, I realized that I had better come up with something else. I doubt she wanted to come home to a lonely slice of chicken on a plate. We had some lettuce left over from hamburgers, but while I can occasionally whip up exceptions to the rule, salad is one of Wife's four-letter words. That's when I remembered the wraps. We didnt' have fresh ginger, or coconut for that matter, but I had a few ideas about what I could use.
Preheat a skillet to medium high with:
1 T. vegetable oil
When it's up to temperature, add:
2 large or 3 small chicken breasts, seasoned with salt and pepper.
Brown on both sides, then reduce the heat to medium and cook until the internal temperature is 165 degrees. While the chicken is cooking, remove the peel from a cucumber, then use the peeler to make thin strips of cucumber, being sure not to go into its seed layer. You will need about half of the cucumber for this, and can reserve the other half for a salad or snack. Place the cucumber strips in a bowl and toss with:
2 t. vinegar
2 t. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
|This is the type of slice you are hoping to end up with.|
|Exactly the color I was looking for.|
|I like big chunks of chicken, but it's probably a bit classier to shred it.|
2 tsp. sweet Thai chili sauce (I prefer Mae Ploy) Be sure to leave the bottle out, because you will want additional sauce for dipping.
Then divide the chicken evenly between each of the wraps. Top each with:
1 T. chopped peanuts or cashews
4 marinated cucumber strips, loosely formed into bows
|Not Mai Thai, but a pretty good lunch.|