Let’s start this one off by letting it be known that I hate mushrooms. They rank somewhere between beets and canned tuna on my list of DO NOT WANT. That being said, these lettuce wraps have mushrooms and lots of them. And I’m totally okay with it! They’re that good.
I think the key to these is that everything gets chopped up really finely before you cook it. You can’t really tell if you’re biting into chicken or onion or…hey! Was that a mushroom? And I feel like I’ve been saying this a lot lately but these lettuce wraps are actually better if you can make them the day before. The flavor really soaks into everything and the chicken mixture melds into a sweet, spicy Asian pile of delicious. In a good way.
I like P.F. Chang’s; I’ve certainly never been mad at their Mongolian Beef. I actually love their lettuce wraps but I really don’t like having to wait 2 hours to get a table anywhere, for any reason. If Bobby Flay told me personally I’d have to wait more than 40 minutes on a table at Mesa Grill I would probably tell him I’d just pick up Thai food and a Redbox on the way home.
So, make these chicken lettuce wraps when you’re going camping, like I do, or when you’re having a whole mess of people over. And I almost forgot: they’re really, really healthy too. So there’s that.
CHICKEN LETTUCE WRAPS
originally adapted from Food.com
for the chicken mixture:
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. sesame oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or 3 cups chopped, cooked chicken)
1/2 small sweet onion, chopped (about 1.5 cups)
1 (8 oz.) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1.5-2 cups chopped white mushrooms (cleaned and stems removed)
3 cloves minced garlic
1 head iceberg lettuce
3 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. wine vinegar (white or red)
***All “chopped” ingredients should be about 1/2″ square pieces
for the serving sauce:
1/8 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp. wine vinegar
2 tbsp. ketchup
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. ground mustard
1 tsp. red chili paste (Sriracha or red pepper sauce)
1. First cook the chicken. I typically roast mine beforehand, or you can cut into strips and pan-saute for about 10 minutes. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, chop into very small chunks, roughly the same size as the chopped mushrooms.
2. While the chicken is cooking, make the serving sauce for the lettuce wraps by whisking together all the “serving sauce” ingredients in a small bowl. You can refrigerate for days or serve immediately.
3. Heat the olive oil and sesame oil a wok or very large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, mushrooms, and water chestnuts and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are softened. Add the garlic and cook about 2 minutes more. While the vegetables are cooking, mix the soy sauce, brown sugar, and wine vinegar together in a small bowl.
4. Add the chicken to the cooking vegetables then pour the stir fry sauce over and stir to combine. If the mixture looks dry, add a bit more soy sauce and wine vinegar. Cook for another 5-7 minutes or until all the ingredients are thoroughly cooked. Remove from heat and let cool a bit before serving with lettuce “cups” and the serving sauce.
***Note: This is one of those recipes you should play around with! Add stuff (peanuts! red peppers!) or leave stuff out if you don’t have it (sesame oil, ground mustard) – nothing in this dish except the chicken and the lettuce is sacred.