Chicken Lettuce Wraps at Home...
January 21, 2018
Stir frying is one of my favorite techniques for getting dinner on the table quickly. A pre-stocked pantry and the proper equipment are key. You are then in business with a few vegetables and some protein that you can pick up easily at any super market. Leftovers taste delicious straight from the fridge or after a quick stint in the microwave.
Lettuce wraps seem to be a restaurant dish but putting your food processor to work makes them very accessible at home. It is easy to call for take out, but once you taste the lighter, healthier and delicious home version, you may become a convert. I hope so!For best results, wash the lettuce ahead and store in the refrigerator for a few hours to recrisp.
When stir-frying, follow these general rules:
BE PRESENT! This is a quick cooking method that requires your active involvement.
BE READY! STIR FRIES COOK QUICKLY!!! Have all of your ingredients cut and measured in advance.
HOT, HOT, HOT… Wok must be heated until very, very hot before adding the first ingredient.
BE PRECISE: Try to make vegetables and protein about the same size. This guarantees even cooking.
GO NON-STICK...Although not authentic, a non-stick wok makes it possible to use less oil for a lighter and healthier dish.
Stir-Fried Chicken in Lettuce Cups
1 tablespoon canola oil, plus more for frying
1 lb. ground chicken
1 small onion, cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
1 tablespoon minced pressed garlic
2 teaspoons grated or minced ginger
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
a 4-ounce piece of jicama (about 1/3 of a small jicama), peeled and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, preferably Marukan
2 teaspoons Kikkoman soy sauce
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce mixed with ¼ cup water (Lee Kum Kee is my favorite brand.)
¼ cup finely-chopped, toasted raw cashews
2 scallions, finely minced
1/4 chop chopped basil or mint, optional
1 head of Bibb lettuce, leaves separated, washed, and carefully dried
In a large nonstick wok or skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the chicken and cook over moderately high heat until lightly golden, about 5-7 minutes. While the chicken is cooking, place the carrot pieces in your food processor and using the pulse button, run the processor until the pieces are finely diced. Be careful not to puree the vegetables. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the carrots from the workbowl. Repeat first with the jicama, then with the onion. Keeping each item separate when you remove it from the processor.
When the chicken is golden, add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the carrot and jicama and stir-fry until the vegetables just begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the rice wine vinegar and cook until evaporated. Then the soy sauce. Finally, stir in the hoisin sauce mixture and cook, stirring, until the sauce reduces and comes together, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
Stir in the cashews, minced scallion, and herbs, if using. To serve, spoon the chicken into the lettuce leaves and serve immediately.