Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Recipe: Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

While we generally tried to avoid eating at chain restaurants when I was pre-op, one of my favorite items used to be offered at Chili's. It was listed as both an appetizer and a salad, and they simply called them "lettuce wraps". Sadly, they were dropped from the menu about 2 years ago - allegedly for low demand. That pretty much ended my occasional trips to Chili's. But, the offering was so tasty, that I've tried recreating them over the years, and this is my best rendition so far.

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Chicken Mixture
  •    6 oz cooked chicken (I used thigh meat) diced or shredded
  • 1/2 cup diced water chestnuts (approximately half a can)
  • 2 oz dry roasted un-salted peanuts - chopped
  • 3/4 cup mung bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 tsp garlic (1-2 cloves), minced
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 12 large lettuce leaves (Boston, Bibb, Butter, Red-Leaf, or even Romaine)
  •  2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp less sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sake 
  • 1/8 cup light brown sugar, packed

This recipe works best if you have all of your ingredients prepared before you begin cooking. First, make the sauce. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. Mixture will be slightly thick and should have a slightly sweet note than a tart or salty note.

Dice the water chestnuts into chunks the size of peas. Run your knife through the peanuts several times, you just want to chop most of them in half - don't pulverize them.

If you are shredding your own carrots (vs. using a bag of purchased shreds), do those now.

Warm the sesame oil in a non-stick skillet over medium to medium-high heat. When it becomes very fragrant, add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds.

Add the chicken, reduce to medium, stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes. The idea is to only warm the ingredients, not to cook them so long as to dry out the chicken.

Add the water chestnuts and peanuts, warm for another 1-2 minutes.

Stir in sauce - there should be just enough to coat, it should not be soupy. Add the carrots and bean sprouts - I prefer mine slightly warmed, you may opt to top your wraps with these two items raw for even more crunch.

Select your lettuce leaves - look for broad leaves without holes. I chose red leaf lettuce this time, as it was the freshest at my market. Boston, Bibb, or Butter lettuce works very well and tends to be wider than my red leaf. Spoon 1/4 of the chicken mixture into the leaves - 3 worked well for me.


Nutritional information (gathered using the recipe builder at http://www.myfooddiary.com). 1 serving = 1/4 recipe. Calories: 281, Total fat 16.3g, Saturated Fat 3.2g, Cholesterol 39mg, Sodium 484 mg, Carbohydrate 18.3g, Dietary Fiber 2.5g, Sugars 11.5g, Protein 16.7g

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