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30-Minute Get Real Meals: Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps

At last, success! A recipe from 30-Minute Get Real Meals that didn’t require major tweaking. I think the root of this one’s success is that Ray didn’t have to fiddle with the basic idea to make chicken lettuce wraps fit the book’s low-carb mandate. It’s already a low-carb dish, just by its nature.

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The only change I made was to increase the amount of hoisin sauce. As written in the book, the recipe calls for 3 tablespoons, which left the chicken a little dry and underseasoned to my taste. Since I’m not worrying about keeping things low-carb, I increased that amount to 1/3 cup, nearly double the amount in the original recipe. (Hoisin sauce has quite a bit of sugar in it, which I assume is the carbophobic reason for the small amount in the original recipe.) The increase made for moister, tastier chicken.

The recipe calls for 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 pounds of chicken. I used a somewhat smaller package, about 1 1/4 pounds. That amount of chicken could be browned in one batch in a large skillet; if you use a larger package of chicken, you may want to cook it in two batches. If your grocery store carries thin-sliced chicken, or chicken "cutlets," use it. It makes the chopping easy. Ray doesn’t specify how small to chop it; when I’ve had this dish in Chinese restaurants, the meat is often chopped very, very finely — nearly minced. Not wanting to do that much work, I chopped the chicken into small bitefuls (about the size of an almond) and was happy with the results. You could substitute oyster mushrooms for the shiitakes, and if you want to get a few more veggies in there, use the entire red bell pepper instead of the half specified in the recipe.

I'm not sure what purpose the iceberg lettuce serves. The original recipe calls for the iceberg heads to be quartered, then placed on the serving platter. Whether or not they're there for eating the chicken is unclear, since you’ve also got Boston, Bibb, or butter lettuce leaves. At any rate, if you want iceberg, go for it. I stuck to simply butter lettuce and was quite happy with the end result.

The recipe below has been revised slightly (for clarity) from the 30-Minute Get Real Meals recipe.



Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

2 cups fresh shiitake or oyster mushrooms
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds thin-cut chicken breast or chicken tenders
2 Tbsp light-colored oil, such as vegetable or peanut oil
salt and pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated or finely chopped
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 red bell pepper, diced small (use the whole pepper if desired)
8-oz. can sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped
3 scallions, chopped
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, core removed, quartered
1 head of Boston, Bibb, or butter lettuce, leaves separated, washed, and dried
Orange wedges, for garnish

Remove the tough stems from the mushrooms and brush with a damp cloth to clean; slice the mushrooms. Chop the chicken into small pieces.

Preheat a large skillet on high heat.

Add the oil to the hot pan. Add the chicken to the pan and sear for a minute or two. Add the mushrooms and cook for another minute or two. Season with salt and pepper, then add garlic and ginger. Cook for a minute more. Add orange zest, bell pepper, water chestnuts, and scallions. Cook for another minute, stirring continuously. Add hoisin sauce and stir to coat evenly. Transfer to a serving platter and serve with lettuce leaves and orange slices. To eat, pile spoonfuls of chicken mixture into lettuce leaves and squeeze an orange wedge over the top.

 

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©2005 Colleen Flippo. All rights reserved. Contact the author.