During one of my visits to Japan (in 1982), my Taiwanese best friend, Shumi took me to visit our very good friend and former classmate, Maria. Maria’s Mom (from mainland China) had opened a new Chinese restaurant featuring some of Maria’s Mom’s old family recipes. We were the VIPs of the restaurant. The restaurant chef brought us samplers from their menu. Remember, I grew up with these girls. I thought I had seen each-and-every Chinese dish there was (not that I can eat every variety of the cuisine), but these were special and one-of-a-kind, each and every one. Paper wrapped and deep fried entrées, seafood that melts in your mouth, dishes with rare vegetables, fruits, nuts… mmm. There was also a lettuce wrap dish. There were choices of fillings which were brought to us already wrapped. Since then, I have eaten all kinds of lettuce cups and wraps in restaurants, but never quite as tasty as Maria’s Mom’s recipes.
Chicken in Lettuce Cups
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
• 1 Tbsp peeled, grated fresh ginger
• 3 Tbsp less-sodium soy sauce
• 1~2 tsp pure honey
• 1 Tbsp unflavored Asian sesame oil
• 2 large skinless chicken half-breasts, or 6 pieces of boneless/skinless thighs, cut into 2cm/ ¾” squares
• 4 celery stalks diced small
• 1 head of iceberg, Boston or lettuce of your choice
• ¼ cup unsalted nuts, i.e. cashews, peanuts, pine nuts or defrosted, cooked edamame
◊ In a small bowl, combine ginger, soy sauce and honey and set aside.
◊ In a medium size non-stick pan, on medium heat, heat the sesame oil (Asian sesame oil burns very fast, just warm it).
◊ Add cut chicken chunks, raise the heat to medium-high and stirring occasionally, cook for 5 min.
Stir in celery and cook for another 2 min. Add soy sauce mixture, stirring occasionally, cook until chicken is cooked through, sauce is absorbed and coats chicken and cut celery.
◊ Add the nuts or edamame, stir for 5 seconds and remove from heat.
◊ Arrange 4~6 lettuce leaf cups (size of your palm) formed like a bowl.
◊ Cut the rest of the leaves in approximately 9cm x 9cm / 3.5” x 3.5” sizes and stack them on a platter.
◊ Fill the cups with the chicken mixture.
◊ Set small spoons at the table setting so initially you scoop the chicken mixture by spoon onto the cut lettuce to eat out of hand and eventually finish it off with the lettuce cup.
~ 食福 / chiah hok – Eat well, enjoy good food! ~
So, what’s cooking in your kitchen?