Take a page from the Taco Tuesday book and set up a build-your-own lettuce wrap bar for dinner tonight. Crisp lettuce cups, steamed rice, toppings galore and super-simple baked meatballs make for an easy and good-for-everyone meal that comes together in under 45 minutes. The secret to these healthy meatballs is using ground dark meat chicken instead of white, which helps them stay extra-moist in the oven. A zesty nuoc cham, a Vietnamese dressing of fresh lime juice and savory fish sauce, is used to both flavor the meatballs and drizzle over the lettuce wraps.
Preheat oven to 425° and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, whisk the lime zest and juice with the fish sauce, brown sugar, garlic, chili pepper and ¼ cup of water until the sugar has dissolved.
In a medium bowl, combine the ground chicken with the egg, panko, ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ cup of the nuoc cham until incorporated. Using your hands or a 1¾-inch ice cream scoop, portion out the meatballs and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet. You should have about 20 meatballs. Brush the meatballs with the oil. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until cooked through.
Set out your toppings and let guests help themselves, filling lettuce wraps with steamed rice, chicken meatballs, julienned carrots, cucumber, scallions, herbs and crispy shallots. Serve with chili paste and lime wedges on the side.