This is my second spring in the great state of Texas and I love watching our garden grow at the Czech Out Ranch. Every day there is something new to report. A new blackberry blossom, a bean stalk, an onion trying to push up from the soil. When it comes to cooking I am inspired by our garden and love to take a walk through it prior to dinner.
My husband and I love Thai food and anything that accompanies a spicy palate is a plus. I was craving Thai lettuce cups one day when I forgot to go to the store for chicken. My husband Adam suggested using venison instead- genius! Since this is South Texas and all, Thai lettuce tacos seemed more fitting a title. Here’s how we made this simple dish.
**If you want to serve with rice I suggest starting your rice based on an hour cooking/prep time commitment. We use a rice cooker so we always start the rice prior to any cooking. In this case we used jasmine rice which classically accompanies Thai food. White rice, brown rice or any sort of starch would work just as good.
Thinly slice roughly two pounds of defrosted venison steak (we wanted leftovers for the following evening). Marinate in a bowl with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil. Salt and pepper. A little goes a long way and I don’t measure. This is why Adam does all the baking. Any type of venison will work (deer, elk, exotics) but in this case we used black tail deer harvested by Adam in Oregon.
Slice/chop your veggies and toppings. We used a variety of peppers, onion, cilantro and crushed peanuts. I added a little bit of chive, basil and parsley from the garden. In addition, the garden peppers were calling my name so I added a few Serrano peppers for an added kick. Choose whichever veggies you enjoy!
Add a touch of olive oil to a pan and sear the venison steak in batches. We do majority of our indoor cooking in a cast iron skillet. Don’t overcook the venison. A minute or so on each side and the venison will be ready. Transfer to a dish and cover with foil to keep warm while you sear the rest.
Sautee onions, peppers and cilantro. You can either do this combined with the venison in step three or afterwards.
Prepare lettuce cups. Traditionally in Asian food restaurants lettuce cups are served with iceberg lettuce because they provide a good vessel for all the goodies. I don’t readily buy iceberg lettuce so I used some romaine which worked just as well. In the garden I mostly grow micro-greens which aren’t sturdy enough but certainly would make a good warm salad version of this recipe. To prepare, tear off each romaine leaflet from the stem to be used as your “cup” or “tortilla” to hold the cooked mixture.
Put it all together and enjoy.
There are many different ways you can put this concoction of ingredients together. We first placed a spoonful of jasmine rice on each romaine lettuce taco. Then added the meat/veggie mixture and uncooked toppings. I added extra cilantro as well as chive, basil, parsley and crushed peanuts for crunch.
Nut allergy? Bean sprouts work just as well. Caution: The more ingredients you add the messier the bite!
My first job in college was at a Hawaiian restaurant where sesame seeds were sprinkled on top of every dish. Therefore I have been trained to have toasted sesame seeds on hand. I buy them pre-toasted but you can easily toast them yourself. How to toast sesame seeds.
For spice Adam and I like to indulge with some hot chili sauce or you can make any Asian inspired vinaigrette. I am obsessed with Korean BBQ sauce. There is room to mix ethnicities for variation so have fun with it!
As hunters it is always fulfilling to know that you played a crucial part in the making of your meal. I also find that when you cook your own wild game it sparks a retelling of the hunt, the animal and the memories made. In a way, cooking your own wild game is a way to honor your harvest.
Happy hunting, gardening and eating!
Venison steak- 2lbs
Your favorite peppers- 1-2
Chive, basil, parsley (or whatever added flavor you’d like)
Salt and black pepper
White wine vinegar
Optional: Toasted sesame seeds, chili sauce, peanuts, bean sprouts
-Kristin Parma, Evo Media Coordinator/ProStaff
-Adam Parma, ProStaff