Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps not only fall into the low-fat, low-carb, category, they also fall in the easy-to-make, delicious-to-eat category.
The making of Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps
As the days get warmer, I look for ways to, not only cut down on my "in the kitchen cooking time", but also ways to keep things fresh and light (and bathing suit friendly). These Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps fit the bill precisely. Not only do Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps fall into the low-fat, low-carb, category, they also fall in the easy to make, delicious to eat category.
One of the things I've discovered from eating lettuce wraps is, the lettuce is important. You really can't just use any old lettuce. Iceberg lettuce is too firm and it falls apart when you try to roll the wrap-up. The very top of romaine lettuce can work, right up to the rib...but then you have all those ribs to try and figure out something to do with. The best lettuce? Bibb. Also known as butter lettuce. Or Boston lettuce.
Butter lettuce accomplishes a feat that not many other lettuces can -- it manages to be velvety soft and tender, while also being extremely sturdy.
Study enough to hold up to lettuce wraps without falling apart. And nothing is worse than having your wrap fall apart in your hands and onto your lap.
The way butter lettuce grows is practically an invitation to put something inside its wide slightly rounded leaves. While it also remains one of my favorite salad lettuces, due to its soft buttery texture, wraps are where it really shines.
Butter lettuce is really easy to grow, and I usually have some in the garden from early spring to mid-summer. Given shade and not too hot temperatures, butter lettuce could be grown all summer...but high heat will make it bolt and that makes the leaves bitter. And bitter leaves are, well, bitter. Don't eat bitter leaves. Most supermarkets sell "live" butter lettuce. You can find them in the produce section in a pretty plastic dome...leaves with roots still attached and just enough dirt so you know it's really real!
I've made this recipe really simple and tasty. Filled with fresh veggies, lean chicken breast meat that's been lightly marinated (let the chicken marinate while you cut the veggies into a nice julienne); then a quick toss in the wok, add a simple sauce ... put some freshness on top...
It's a party in your mouth. But not on your hips!
So enjoy these lazy days of summer while cooking up some Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps.
Written for two but can easily be doubled, tripled or whatever.
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Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps
- The Chicken
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts about 5 ounces each cut into small cubes (about ½ inch or smaller)
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy
- 1 tablespoon dry sherry
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- For the Veggies
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
- ½ of large red bell pepper julienned and then sliced across into about 2-inch pieces
- 1 large carrot cut into 2-inch pieces and then julienned
- ½ can sliced bamboo shoots rinsed, drained and julienned
- 1 - 2 tablespoons grapeseed rice bran, coconut or other oil
- For the Sauce
- ½ cup Hoisin
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Sambel Oelek garlic sauce found in the Asian section of the grocery store or to taste
- 1 teaspoon black bean sauce
- ½ teaspoon Shirrachi or to taste
- ½ lime juiced
- For the Toppings
- 2-3 green onions thinly sliced (green part only)
- ½ cup cilantro leaves
- ¼ cup chopped peanuts or cashews
- Lime wedges
- And of course cleaned bibb lettuce leaves
- Combine the marinade ingredients together in a bowl, add the chicken breast and toss to coat. Set aside to marinate at room temperature while you julienne the vegetables and prepare the "toppings".
- Heat a small amount of oil in a wok or large sauté pan over medium-high heat; add the chicken and cook for 2 - 3 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the wok and set aside. Wipe the wok clean
- Add a bit more oil and add the garlic, ginger, red bell pepper and carrot, cook, stirring often for about 2 minutes or until crisp-tender, return the chicken to the wok along with the bamboo shoots; stir in the sauce and stir until well combined. Turn off the heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes so it's not super hot when you put it into the lettuce cups.
- Take 1 or 2 bibb lettuce leaves; fill with 2 or more tablespoons of the filling, then add toppings of your choice. Fold, taco-style, and enjoy.