Monday, April 12, 2010

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Who doesn't love lettuce wraps from Chinese restaurants? This is an easy version, though the ingredients are a little intimating. I don't really use hoisin sauce or oyster sauce for anything else other than this dish. I served this with potstickers (yes, homemade) as a main dish, but it would be good as an appetizer too. This can be, and usually is a messy dish.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

8 small Boston lettuce leaves - I use Bibb lettuce because that's what's at the grocery store
2 Tb. hoisin sauce
2 - 3 chicken breasts, chilled
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp. dry white wine
1/3 cup canned water chestnuts, rinsed, drained and chopped fine - I omit these because I don't like water chestnuts
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped fine
1/4 tsp. salt
1 large egg white, beaten lightly

For sauce:
4 tsp. oyster sauce
1 tsp. Asian sesame oil
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)

2 Tb. vegetable oil
1 small garlic clove, minced

In a food processor, pulse chicken until chopped fine. In a small cup, stir together cornstarch, wine, salt and egg. Add chopped chicken, bell pepper and chestnuts. Marinate for 5 minutes.

To make sauce: Stir together all ingredients until sugar is dissolved.

In a large saucepan with salted boiling water, simmer chicken mixture slowly. Stir constantly to break up lumps. Cook chicken until it is no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Drain chicken mixture in a sieve.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat vegetable oil over moderately high heat. Do not let oil smoke. Cook garlic until softened. Add chicken mixture and cook, stirring until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add sauce and cook, stirring until mixture is coated, about 2 minutes.

Add hoisin sauce to lettuce leaves and spread over lettuce and add chicken. Wrap leaves loosely around filling to eat.

I love the hoisin sauce with this. Hoisin is like a Chinese barbecue sauce. It has a nice sweet, kind of tangy, flavor to it. I will admit that oyster sauce does not smell the greatest and probably doesn't even taste that great on its own, but mixed with the sugar and sesame oil, it gives the chicken a deep flavor. It's actually fairly subtle on the chicken itself once added.

This is a pretty easy and healthy meal. The most intimidating part of this recipe may be chopping the chicken in a food processor. But that's not hard - just different. A deterrent, maybe the hoisin and oyster sauces. These keep well for a while, so if you like this dish, you'll have all the ingredients on hand for next time. I hope you'll give it a try!

Happy cooking!

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