Friday, January 4, 2013

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

While we already have an Asian lettuce wrap recipe that we really like using ground beef, I couldn't resist trying a chicken version.  Chicken lettuce wraps seem like such a classic dish and really aren't hard to make at home.  Perhaps the most labor-intensive part was that I didn't want to get my food processor covered in raw chicken, so I chose to finely chop the chicken instead.  

Like most stir-fries, you want to have all your ingredients ready to go before you start the actual cooking process.  The cooking process goes quickly (it's about 10 minutes altogether), so there's not really time to be chopping veggies while things cook.
Although you could make this a side dish or appetizer, this was our main meal.  I served it with quinoa and roasted broccoli on the side (both were drizzled with a little sesame oil and soy sauce).  I probably couldn't choose a favorite between these chicken lettuce wraps and the beef ones - I highly recommend both!

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Taken from: Cook's Illustrated magazine, May/June 2012
Serves 4 as a main dish, 8 as a side dish 
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut into rough 1-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese rice cooking wine or dry sherry (I used rice wine vinegar)
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice cooking wine or dry sherry (again, I used rice wine vinegar)
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more, for taste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced thin (I used regular button mushrooms)
  • 1/2 cup water chestnuts, diced (I omitted because I didn't have it on hand)
  • 2 scallions, white parts minced, green parts sliced thin
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 head bibb, romaine or butter lettuce (8 ounces), washed and dried, leaves separated and left whole
  • hoisin sauce, for serving (optional, I omitted)
  • sriracha sauce, for serving (optional -- I just like sriracha)
  • sesame seeds, for serving (optional)
  1. First, prep the chicken. Place chicken pieces on a large plate or two in a single layer. Freeze meat until firm and staring to harden around the edges, about 20 minutes or so. Meanwhile, whisk the rice wine, soy sauce, oil and cornstarch together  in a medium sized bowl. Set aside. Once the chicken has been chilled, transfer about half of it into a  food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped into 1/4-inch sized pieces, about 7 or 8. Transfer the meat to the bowl with the rice wine-cornstarch mixture and repeat with the remaining chicken chunks. (If you do not have a food processor or if you're like me and do not want to get raw chicken all over your food processor, you can cut the chicken into small, 1/2 inch pieces by hand instead.) Toss the chicken to coat with the rice wine mixture and place in the refrigerator to chill for about 15 minutes.
  2. To make the sauce that will be later used to coat the stir-fried chicken and vegetables, whisk all the ingredients, including the oyster sauce, rice wine, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
  3. For the stir-fry, it is important that you already have all of the vegetables already prepped and chopped and the chicken chilled. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until very hot, or smoking. Add the chicken and cook, stirring constantly, until opaque and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and set aside in a bowl. Next, cook the vegetables. In the now-empty skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil until very hot and smoking. Add the chopped celery and mushrooms and cook, stirring constantly, until the mushrooms have reduced to about half their size and the celery is tender but still crisp, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the water chestnuts, minced white part of the scallions and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute. Return chicken to skillet. Whisk set aside sauce to recombine and add to the skillet, tossing the chicken and vegetables in the sauce.
  4. Spoon chicken stir-fry into lettuce leaves and sprinkle with scallion greens. Serve with hoisin sauce if you’d like. 


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