You know when you’ve had something delicious, and it was in a specific time and place that you won’t ever get to visit again, but the memory of it just kind of haunts you?
Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can recreate it at home. It’s crazy, but this post is brought to you by a craving that has lasted for over fifteen years.
Yes I realize that makes me sound old, but let’s just focus on the fact that the flavors of this Thai Peanut Chicken Wrap are that good, shall we?
Long ago when I was a young, spritely twenty something, I worked in Boston at a mutual fund company (where I met my husband, so they were wonderful years). I used to run out to lunch and grab wraps from this amazing wrap place because they were so quick and so good. They had a ton of different kinds of wraps but I kept returning for their warm, tangy, salty, comforting Thai Peanut Chicken Wrap because the flavors from the peanut sauce were amazing, the crunchy veggies the perfect counter to the soft rice and chicken, and everything was so warm. Warm rice, warm wrap and warm chicken all succeeded in making my belly very full and happy. So when I was trying to think of new dinner ideas that could produce the same feeling in my kids, I knew I had to try to recreate this wrap.
I love to make food that is driven by cravings…they can lead you to some very good places. Like this Thai Peanut Satay Sauce.
I have tried to make a good peanut sauce many times before, but I could never get it to be as good as my memory of this wrap. So I kept researching and fiddling and finally…I discovered two game changers. The first is to start with coconut milk. It makes it so thick and creamy and the perfect consistency. The second is white vinegar. SO many recipes for satay sauce use rice wine vinegar but I found a food blog by a woman whose mother hailed from Thailand and sounded like a wonderful cook, and she swore that you should only use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar in your sauce. I actually taste tested this with my big kids and she is SO right. (Can’t re-find her blog either or I would share!)
This sauce actually comes together very fast, and most of these are already in your pantry. Some of the flavor notes like lemongrass and chili I’m listing as optional because if you have coconut milk, peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, and ginger, lime and white wine vinegar, you’re going to get something approximating this crave worthy sauce. And then you need to make buckets of it and put it on everything. Noodles, rice, chicken, pizza crust, whatever you prefer.
If you were super smart and made the sauce on a weekend, then your weeknight dinner prep looks like: shred rotisserie chicken and toss it in a pan with some of the sauce to your desired thickness (I would say about 1.5-2 cups per chicken), slice some veggies…
and throw some rice in the rice cooker. I’m not going to lie, jasmine rice is delicious here. But when I had the leftovers for lunch I used the more virtuous brown rice and it was delicious too.
If you don’t have a rice cooker, this recipe (along with literally thousands of others) will make it worth your while. I love it for the use of the steamer tray on top which is completely helpful in steaming broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, etc. But for these wraps I used it for getting the wrap nice and hot. I just put it in and shut the lid after the rice was done for about 1-2 minutes. You can also microwave it in a moist paper towel for 30 seconds too, which I did the next day.
Then you try to build the wrap with rice straight from the rice cooker, still steamy.
The dense packing of the rice is pretty important, so make sure when you wrap it you fold it over and secure all the fillings with one hand and then fold in the ends and roll.
If for any reason you wait to eat this trust me and microwave it for 30 seconds as it is best to eat it pipping hot. You can also wrap it in foil to stay warm if needed.
My kids LOVED this dinner. As did my husband. It is definitely a keeper and I’m so glad to have it in back in my life again. It’s kind of like meeting an old friend again after a long time. Also, how cute is she? She’s basically a dream 11-year-old. I’m glad she gets to know about this wrap young.
Thai Peanut Chicken Wraps
For the sauce:
1 can coconut milk
3/4 cup peanut butter (natural is the best)
3 garlic cloves, finely minced or grated
1 inch piece of ginger, finely minced or grated
4 T. soy sauce
juice of 1 lime
2 T. sweet chili sauce, optional
2 T. lemon grass puree (or let 4 1-inch pieces simmer in the sauce), optional
1/4 c. white vinegar (apple cider vinegar works fine too)
For the filling:
2 cups cooked rice (jasmine is best, brown works too)
1 rotisserie chicken, shredded (about 3 cups)
2 cups peanut sauce
red pepper, thinly sliced
cilantro and lime, if desired
While rice cooks in rice cooker, heat 2 cups peanut sauce with shredded chicken. When rice is done, warm wraps in top of rice cooker or microwave in a wet paper towel for 30 seconds. Then quickly build wrap with rice, sauced chicken, veggies, and more sauce if desired. Wrap and serve immediately. If needed, you can make wraps ahead and wrap them in tin foil and keep them warm in the oven at 200 degrees.