I'm sure ever since I noted that my first foray into my "Cook at least one recipe from all my cookbooks" resolution was the Chicken Lettuce Cups from Martin Yan Quick & Easy, I'm sure you've been waited with bated breath for the recipe. Well, wait no more, because it's now its turn to come out of my blog post backlog!
I made the Chicken Lettuce Cups as part of the February newsletter for FitNut Consulting, one of my new contracts (please like us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter!), in celebration of Chinese New Year.
My family never really makes this dish at home, and when we do have it, it's usually made with duck as part of a three-course Peking Duck meal. I thought about sharing a more "traditional" Chinese New Year recipe, but I was worried that it wouldn't be universally appealing (steamed whole fish or dried oysters) or healthy (New Year cake). Lettuce is actually considered a lucky food in the Chinese New Year as the word for lettuce (生菜/"saang choi") sounds a lot like the words for "creating wealth" (生財). During a lion dance, you may see people throwing heads of lettuce into the lion's mouth; that is why.
B. later informed me that his family does sometimes have lettuce wraps for Chinese New Year. *phew*
The recipe comes together quickly, with most of the prep revolving around dicing some vegetables really finely - the perfect opportunity to break in the knife that B. got me for Christmas! To make perfect lettuce cups, don't try just ripping the leaves directly from the lettuce. Instead, core and halve the lettuce, then carefully peel back the layers to make the cups. Also, don't skimp on the sauce - it adds moisture and a sweet-and-spicy flavour to the dish. Finally, can you believe that B. and I took these photos during the evening? We've been playing a lot with bouncing the flash lately...
Chicken Lettuce Cups
Adapted from Martin Yan Quick & Easy
Makes 4 servings
- 2 dried or fresh shiitake mushrooms
- ½ lb (227 g) ground chicken or turkey
- 1½ tsp (7 mL) cornstarch
- 2 tsp (10 mL) Chinese rice wine, or dry sherry
- ¼ cup (60 mL) hoisin sauce
- 2 tsp (10 mL) low-sodium soy sauce
- 1½ tsp (7 mL) chili garlic sauce
- 1 tsp (5 mL) sesame oil
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil
- 1 tsp (5 mL) ginger, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ red pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- ½ cup water chestnuts, finely chopped
- 2 tsp cilantro, chopped
- 8 iceberg lettuce cups
Nutrition Info (per 2 lettuce cups with sauce): 192 calories, 9 g fat (2 g saturated), 49 mg cholesterol, 15 g carbohydrate (6 g sugar, 2 g fibre), 11 g protein, 400 mg sodium. An excellent source of potassium. A good source of vitamin C, riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), vitamin B6, vitamin B12, manganese and selenium.
- If using dried mushrooms, soak the mushrooms in a small bowl filled with warm water to cover until softened, about 15-30 minutes, then drain. Discard the stems and coarsely chop the caps. Set aside.In a bowl, combine the chicken, cornstarch and wine and mix well. Let stand for 10 minutes.
- While the chicken is marinating, make the sauce by combining hoisin sauce, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce and sesame oil in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside.
- Place a stir-fry pan over high heat until hot. Add the oil, swirling to coat the sides. Add the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the chicken mixture and stir-fry until crumbly and no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Add the bell pepper, water chestnuts and mushrooms and stir-fry until the bell pepper is soft, 1-2 minutes.
- Stir in the cilantro. To serve, arrange the lettuce cups on a plate and set alongside the sauce and the chicken mixture. Spoon some of the chicken mixture into the lettuce cup (don't be greedy!), add a drizzle of sauce, then fold the lettuce around the filling and eat!