Lettuce Wraps

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It’s getting warmer and it’s time to get into swimsuit shape so lots of folks are watching their calories. Many of are looking for no carb alternatives, but all of us love to still eat delicious food.

You might have noticed in many of the popular Asian or Asian fusion restaurants the serve lettuce wraps well they are an easy fix ahead item that can be pulled out later in the week and create a light meal or add to a full meal as an appetizer.
I’m not usually an Asian chef but I always enjoy the flavors. Sushi is on the top of my go out to meals as I just don’t have the touch at home. I know it’s practice, practice, practice but if I can cook everything at home I would never have an excuse to go out.

If you grill chicken over the weekend the leftovers can be used in this recipe or you can cook the chicken fresh. Either way these work and they can be prepared ahead and re-heated a few days later.

I experimented with several different lettuces, bibb, escarole, endive, iceberg and romaine each add a bit different flavor but primarily it’s about the crunch so fresh is best. Iceberg and romaine have the least flavor and bibb is the softest, but can fall apart when overstuffed. Endive makes a better appetizer portion. Choose the right vehicle for the stuffing depending on what you have or what you want to achieve. Sometimes what you have is the best choice.

To make the sauce it can vary a bit but I recommend Rice wine vinegar, Soy sauce, Teriyaki sauce and Hoisin sauce.

 

Ingredients:

  • Chicken (thighs preferred)
  • Water Chestnuts (1 can)
  • Celery (1 stalk)
  • Shallot (1 small)
  • Fresh Ginger (a piece about the size of your thumb)
  • Carrot (1 medium)
  • Garlic clove (1 medium)

Method:

Cook the chicken cool, remove the skin dice into small pieces. Dice water chestnuts, celery and shallot. Cut the carrot into fine Julian strips and mince the garlic. Peel and finely grate the ginger. All of these to a skillet adding 1 tbs of rice wine vinegar, 2 tbs soy and teriyaki sauce and finally 2 tbs of hoisin sauce. If this appears a bit dry add a table spoon or two of water to get the sauce to mix well with the vegetables.

Cover and cook over medium heat for 5 min and add the chicken tossing to cover and blend well with the veggies and sauce. Cover and cook for another 2 min till thoroughly heated.

Pull the leaves of the lettuce into the size you want (from bite to roll) and then stack with a bowl of the filling for folks to build their own. If you want to add some kick use your favorite hot sauce, I recommend Sriracha. You can cook this in for everyone or leave it on the side if you have mild eater with the chili heads.

I pair this with a nice Riesling or I found a perfect rose with notes of raspberry and strawberry and just a hint of sweet on the back end to cool the heat. Of course a chilled Saki is also an excellent choice.

Kanpai! Till next time, make it your own!

-Glenn

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SRIRACHA

The origin of sriracha is debated but the Thai Si Racha Lover’s Association credits the creation of the sauce to a woman with a small shop in Sriracha. Burmese saw mill workers came to the shop to buy chilies, salt, vinegar and sugar to grind in a mortar making a spicy sauce for themselves and their families. Soon this enterprising shop keeper started to prepare the sauce to sell and not long after another customer named Thimkrachang began to buy large quantities of the ingredients to make the sauce commercially where it first appeared under the brand name of ‘Si Racha Phanich’.
The producer of the sauce most recognized in the US with the Rooster on the label never copy righted the name so now sriracha sauce has become a generic term although many varieties are now available.