Make This Tonight: Asian Lettuce Wraps

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I recently went to an Asian market in Salt Lake City and it was so inspiring. There were so many sauces, noodles and hard-to-find ingredients like shiso leaves. I had to stop myself from buying everything I saw! And now I am on an Asian-food cooking frenzy.

I love Asian food for a myriad of reasons. It is incredibly flavorful, fresh-tasting and can also be pretty quick to make. So now that I have stocked up on some new sauces, I have been experimenting with making new dishes with them. 

Lettuce wraps are something I have enjoyed at many Asian restaurants but have only made once or twice until now. Armed with a full supply of sesame oil, I decided to make them for dinner one night. In under 30 minutes, I had a healthy dinner on the table that will be a new favorite in our house.   

This dish is fun because you get to eat it with your hands. If you worry about gluten (which I don’t!) it’s free of it. There is a ton of flavor and it will impress your friends if you choose to share it. We liked it so much that I made it again a week later to serve to a group of friends at a dinner party. I did summer rolls and the lettuce wraps and the guests left very happy.

As with most of my recipes, you can adjust to suit your tastes. Make it spicier if you like and adjust the vegetables in it. Mushrooms and boc choy would be nice additions or subsitutions for the carrot. I add the spinach just for extra health benefits but it’s not essential to the dish. Basil could be substituted for the cilantro and lime juice could be exchanged for the rice vinegar. It would be hard to mess this up so play around with it.   

If you prep all the ingredients and have everything ready to go, you can just cook it right before you are ready to serve. If you want to turn this into a heartier meal, serve it with freshly steamed jasmine rice on the side. You can add sliced cucumber and tomato on the side too, to really complete the dinner.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic chili sauce
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-inch piece ginger, minced
  • ½ red onion, finely diced
  • 1 pound ground chicken (I like lean, 99% fat-free)
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1 8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained and chopped small
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions (from about 6 green onions), divided
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 2 small heads Bibb lettuce

Instructions

  • Mix together the sauce: Combine the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and garlic chili sauce in a small bowl. Whisk to combine
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger and red onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add the chicken and cook until the meat is no longer pink. Add the carrots, water chestnuts, green onion, cilantro and spinach and stir to combine. Toss in the bean sprouts and add the sauce and mix until well combined.
  • To serve, break off all the lettuce leaves and layer then on the sides of a platter with the chicken mixture in the middle. Use the leaves as a serving vehicle for the chicken mixture.
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This column was originally published in the Jackson Hole News and Guide.

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Writer. Cook. Hockey player. Skier. Snowboarder. Mountain biker. Mother of two great danes. Wife. Marketing expert. And, most fulfilling, Co-editor of Dishing!

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