So I have a lot of friends, everyone, one of them amazingly unique. One of my best friends is Robin Rocque. Hailing from New Orleans East this lady's small stature in no way matches her personality. She is a combo of funny, loud, caring, motivated, intelligent, witty and she is an all-around ball buster.
We met when I was the bartender at her new local watering hole. Like everyone she's around, she drew me in. She mentioned her birthday was coming up and she didn’t have plans. You see I have this rule - no one spends their birthdays or holidays alone. I decided we would have a B-day dinner at my house. I am sure she was wondering why does this crazy lady want to throw a dinner for someone she barely knows? Robin has this great sense of adventure when she's not watching her ridiculous sci-fiction and cartoons (I don’t care what you say Robin, there are no adult cartoons) so she went with it. We clicked immediately, I love when I find a fellow smart-ass, grab the world by its short hairs, woman. Over time we realized we had already kind of met years past.
Robin is the proud owner of her own tour company in New Orleans, 504 Experience Tours. In her younger days, she started on this path by giving Segway tours. Well, I happen to sit my giant pregnant ass on my porch every day because my giant bread loaf feet made walking long distances impossible. Every day this short lady with a gaggle of clueless tourists would come wheeling by my house. Out of boredom, I decided to come up with her life story.
I imagined she was doing tours because she was working her way back up from the tragic break up with her girlfriend. The evil girlfriend that had stolen her dog and all her money. Due to the fact that she had given up her career to support her girlfriend's dreams she no longer had the resume to get her old job back and was forced to move-in with her parents and work tours till she could build back up. I spent many fat pregnant lady hours lamenting Robin's misfortune and wishing ill-will on the evil ex-girlfriend. Well, I was about as wrong as I could be.
Once we met in person I found out she not only never had a girlfriend, (she was married to a very large German man) and she loved doing tours. She was building up her career in the tour business and loved the travel it awarded her with the higher she climbed in her field. You haven't had a tour till you have been on a Robin Rocque tour. To be fair she saw me everyday and thought “That poor giant pregnant lady. She must be all alone and the porch is her only way of seeing people.” Okay, she was part right. I was marooned on my porch but not due to lack of friends but due to the fact that most people avoid a giant angry pregnant woman like the plague. Eventually, we ended up living one block from each other in Algiers Point. Robin still calls me lamenting the fact that I am no longer there to feed her and open her wine bottles. This woman would show up at my door and just shove a bottle in my face and demand I open it because she didn’t like too. Oh, we have many stories that will appear in this blog over time. I am known for my rants but she isn’t far behind. I love to get some dopey jerk to repeat something moronic to Robin just to sit back and watch her slowly rip them to shreds.
One of Robin's traits you learn quickly is she doesn’t share food and she hates when people grab food from her plate. I mean this woman stabbed a date in the hand with a fork for trying to take one of her oysters. Don’t worry he’s fine and he ended up marrying her. (Side note - he couldn’t handle her awesome and she is now much happier single lady). One day, a group of my friends and I decided to do lunch. One of these friends loved taking food off peoples plates without asking. I knew I was in for some extra entertainment. We ended up at P.F.Changs. We sat down at a booth during a packed lunch service. Robin ordered a wedge salad, our friend gets the lettuce wraps. As we were chatting away the waiter puts down a dish. At the exact same moment that our friend reaches for the food, Robin saw lettuce out of the corner of her eye, whips around and smacks her hand away. The sound was so loud the whole dining room got quiet and everyone turns our way. After a beat, she notices that it's the lettuce wraps. She slowly leaned back in the booth raised her hands and said “my bad, but you really need to stop touching other peoples food." So this recipe is my tribute to The Slap Heard Around the World. And the amazing lady that has stood by me through everything and giving me the tough love I so need.
So in honor of the one and only Robin Rocque here we go. Not many notes needed for this one it's pretty self-explanatory. I would recommend using both light and dark meat chicken, it adds extra flavor and prevents dried out chicken. Also when choosing a fish sauce remember some are stronger than the others so be aware of that when you are adding it in. Don't forget the peanut sauce it takes the wraps to the next level.
1 large head iceberg or butter lettuce
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger (you'll need a thick 2-inch piece)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds chicken minced( use ground if you want a shortcut)
1-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce (use gluten-free if needed)
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons lime zest, from 2 limes
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, from 1-1/2 limes
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 large scallions, white and green parts, finely sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped cashews or peanuts
2 cups cooked Jasmine Rice or rice noodles
Thai Peanut Sauce for serving
*I also serve this over Jasmine Rice or Rice Noodles in a bowl, similar to the rice bowls in Vietnamese restaurants.
1. Heat the oil in large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and ginger and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, 4-5 minutes.
2. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.
3. Add the ground chicken and turn the heat up to high. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon until partially cooked through, about 3 minutes.
4. Add the soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, lime zest, lime juice and red pepper flakes and continue cooking, stirring frequently to break up the meat, until the chicken is cooked through, 5-6 minutes more.
5. Off the heat, stir in the scallions, cilantro, mint, and nuts. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Spoon into lettuce cups and serve with optional garnishes.
Peanut sauce recipe:
1 1" piece ginger, peeled
1 small garlic clove
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 -1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
With motor running, drop ginger and garlic clove into a blender and blend until finely chopped. Add peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, and 1/3 cup water and blend, adding more water by tablespoonfuls if needed to thin, until smooth.
*store this in the fridge and it will last around 3-4 days.