My family, especially the kids, love those Chinese chicken lettuce wraps at a well-known Chinese restaurant chain. They are gluten-free, quite delicious, and Sarah often makes her whole meal about them, which means at least two orders. That, of course, made me wonder if I couldn’t make them at home. I looked online at recipes and, sure enough, there are several copycat recipes for this popular wrap. However, most of them had water chestnuts (nobody’s favorite in our family), garlic (overpowering with chicken), and called for cooking and mincing whole chicken breasts. I hoped I could do better, quicker and cheaper.
First I picked familiar vegetables that come in convenient forms: shredded cabbage, and shredded carrots. It was a snap to chop these very fine because half the work had been done. I added minced mushrooms and green onion, sautéed these in canola oil and added ground chicken, saving the time and labor of cooking and mincing chicken breasts.
Then I added my own stir-fry sauce, turned up the heat and wound up with a tasty filling that would make 8 wraps.
Lettuce was the next challenge. Iceberg lettuce leaves are both too big and too stiff to wrap successfully. Instead I chose Boston (also called Butter) lettuce. I bought a couple of heads to get just the right size inner leaves and the rest I washed, bagged and saved for salad.
The test, of course, was taste: would my family like these as much as the restaurant version? Not only as much, but they liked them more, especially when they realized we could now eat these at home whenever we wished. And the best news is that the filling can be cooked and refrigerated up to 3 days in advance, making preparation a honest-to-goodness snap.
- Stir Fry Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 1-teaspoon rice vinegar
- Chicken Filling:
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 cup packed pre-shredded cabbage, finely chopped
- ½ cup packed pre-shredded carrots, finely chopped
- ½ cup minced mushrooms
- 3 scallions trimmed, minced
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 2 heads of Boston or Butter lettuce
- Dipping Sauce:
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder mixed with 2 teaspoons of water until smooth
- 2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- In a small bowl combine the 2 tablespoons soy sauce, the 2 two tablespoons brown sugar and the 1 teaspoon rice vinegar. Stir to dissolve sugar. Reserve.
- In a 12-inch nonstick skillet add oil. Heat over medium heat. Add cabbage, carrots, mushrooms and scallions, and sauté stirring until vegetables are soft and tender. Add chicken and sauté stirring, while breaking up lumps, until it is cooked through.
- Add reserved stir-fry sauce, turn up heat and stir until all the sauce has evaporated. Remove pan from heat and let cool.
- While chicken mixture is cooling, core heads of lettuce and separate out 8 medium-size leaves. Rinse and spin dry in a salad spinner. Reserve.
- Mix the dipping sauce by combining in a 1-quat bowl the ¼ cup brown sugar, ½ cup orange juice, 2 tablespoons soysauce, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons ketchup, the mustard owder and water mixture, 2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce and the sesame oil. Whisk to dissolve the sugar. Reserve.
- To make the wraps: Place 1/3 cup of the chicken filling in each lettuce leaf. Place the filled leaves in a serving dish. Divide the reserved dipping sauce among 8 small individual bowls, cups or shot glasses. Serve 1 wrap on a plate with a container of dipping sauce.
Variations: Make the chicken filling and the dipping sauce the day before, cool, wrap and refrigerate and complete the wraps the next day.
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