Monday, October 22, 2012

Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps

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Hilary always talks about having a “stocked closet”…you know, one with the perfect outfit to wear on just about any occasion (which is one of the perks of living with her…a backup wardrobe for those last minute events where nothing in my closet will do!)

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I’m the same way with cooking…a “stocked pantry” is helpful when preparing meals each week.  This ironically is the reason Hil says she doesn’t cook…it would be too expensive to buy all the ingredients to prepare a recipe…might as well just get take out! 

But if she/you would make the “investment” in a few staples it would become less of an issue. 

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Asian food is the perfect example.  I always have the following on hand: soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, fish sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger (I store it in the freezer), sriracha, and hoisin. Most of these last for a long time too. With these ingredients available I easily made these lettuce wraps and could make many other Asian influenced recipes from DG:

Cold Sesame Noodles
Asian Mushroom Quinoa
Pork Tenderloin Banh Mi
Soy Glazed Salmon
Chicken Sate with Peanut Sauce
Shrimp Summer Rolls
Beef Lettuce Wraps

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I LOVE the lettuce wraps from PF Changs and this recipe is a REALLY close match. 
The ingredients list is long, but like I said, if you buy all these things once, and make a point to use them in the future, the investment will be worth it!

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Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps

adapted from Cooks Illustrated

makes 4-6 servings

For the Chicken:

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of visible fat and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoons Chinese rice cooking wine or dry sherry*
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch

For the Sauce:

3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1tablespoon Chinese rice cooking wine or dry sherry*
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

For the Stir-fry:

4 teaspoons neutral flavored oil, divided (canola, vegetable)
2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced thin
1/2 cup water chestnuts, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 scallions, white parts minced, green parts sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 head Bibb lettuce (8 ounces), washed and dried, leaves separated and left whole
Hoisin sauce (optional)

Place chopped chicken pieces on large plate in single layer. Freeze meat until firm and starting to harden around edges, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk rice wine, soy sauce, and cornstarch together in bowl.

Pulse half of meat in food processor until coarsely chopped into ¼- to 1/8-inch pieces, about 10 pulses. Transfer meat to bowl with rice wine mixture and repeat with remaining chunks. Toss chicken to coat and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

To make the sauce, whisk all ingredients together in bowl; set aside.

Heat 2 teaspoons of the neutral oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Add chicken and cook, stirring constantly, until opaque, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to bowl and wipe out skillet.

Heat remaining 2 teaspoons of the neutral oil in now-empty skillet over high heat until smoking. Add celery and mushrooms; cook, stirring constantly, until mushrooms have reduced in size by half and celery is crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add water chestnuts, scallion whites, and garlic; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk sauce to recombine. Return chicken to skillet; add sauce and toss to combine.

Spoon into lettuce leaves and sprinkle with scallion greens. Serve, passing hoisin sauce separately if desired…even though I had hoisin on hand, I didn’t think it needed it, so I opted not to use any.

Per serving (1/5 of the recipe): 190 calories, 13g fat (2.1 g saturated), 8g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 18 g protein (2.5 fat, 2.5 protein, 1 veg)

* Rice wine vs Rice wine vinegar…read about it here: …I used rice wine vinegar, which is not what the recipe called for, and thought it worked fine

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