Friday, November 16, 2012

Chinatown - It's a Wrap!

Concluding my week of chicken salad recipes, I thought I would throw you a curve ball, specifically "Chicken Lettuce Wraps!" These saucy concoctions are so savory and delicious, I truly crave them regularly. With the combination of ground chicken, ginger, scallions, water chestnuts, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, and oyster sauce, all nestled in beautiful butter lettuce cups, they make a perfect lunch, appetizer, or with a bowl of rice, noodles, or soup, an excellent dinner!

This recipe comes from San Francisco's Chinatown, via Joanne Weir, which got me thinking... Are these an American bastardization or are they authentic Chinese? Turns out, lettuce wraps are an authentic Cantonese dish called "sung choy bao," as well as similar lettuce wrapped dishes showing up in Thai, Korean, and Vietnamese cuisine! So, wrap away without condonation! Not only are these quick and easy to make, but a welcome addition to any home-cook's repertoire!

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Serves 4-6


2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 pound ground dark meat chicken (Pork or turkey work well, too!)
8 scallions, white and green parts, minced
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/3 cup water chestnuts, chopped
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (I grate mine on my microplane.)
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce, or more to taste
1 large head butter lettuce, leaves separated


Warm the oil in a skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, scallions, and cornstarch and cook, stirring constantly, until the chicken is cooked and broken into pieces, 3-4 minutes. Add the water chestnuts, soy sauce, ginger, oyster sauce, and chili garlic sauce and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

To serve, take 1 lettuce leaf at a time and spoon a heaping tablespoon of the chicken mixture into the center. Wrap the lettuce around the filling and serve.

Recipe adapted from Weir Cooking In The City, by Joanne Weir.

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