Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps & an Anniversary

How is it already August? This year is flying by. It's already been 1 year since Brian and I got married, 1 year! Crazy town. We celebrated our first anniversary yesterday. We had big plans to go to one of our favorite restaurants, Girl & the Goat. But when the time came, on a Monday night, we couldn't bring ourselves to leave the house. So sad, I know. But since both of us weren't in the mood, we decided that we should do what we felt like, and ordered Indian take-out. Romance.

Anyhow, last weekend the Olympics kicked off and our friends threw an Opening Ceremony Party. Such a fun idea. Everyone brought food from different regions and countries. Filipino nuts, Mexican dip, Around the World Cheese Plate, Brazilian Steak, Mediterranean White Bean Dip, and this recipe, Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps. I'm not pegging this to any country in Asia because this is probably more American than Asian. But hey, I used soy sauce and ginger. A little Asian, right?

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps
makes 15 - 20 lettuce wraps

1.5 - 2 lbs ground chicken (dark or white meat)
6-8 cloves garlic (minced)
1 inch ginger (peeled and minced/grated)
2 serrano chilies (seeds removed, thinly sliced)
1 8oz. can diced water chestnuts
4 green onions (diced)
2 heads butter or Boston lettuce (leaves carefully removed)
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

for the sauce:
4 tbsp Hoisin sauce
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp corn starch (optional)

extra hoisin sauce
soy + sriracha + vinegar sauce
green onion (diced)
cilantro (diced)
pickled shaved carrots
pickled shaved cucumber

Prep all of your toppings and sauce ahead of time. For the sauce, whisk everything together. The corn starch will thicken up the sauce, which is optional but recommended. 

Toppings: For the pickled veggies, boil 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1/2 tbsp salt. In 2 small sealable containers, put shaved carrots in one and thinly sliced cucumber in the other. Pour hot pickling liquid into both. Let cool before serving. 

In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. Add ground chicken and a pinch of salt. Cook, breaking chicken up so that it crumbles for about 7-8 minutes. Some of the chicken will have browned. If you need to cook the chicken in 2 batches, go for it. Remove chicken with a slotted spoon to a plate.

If there is too much fat left in the pan, drain a bit. If not, lower heat to medium and add ginger, serrano, garlic, salt and pepper. Just a little salt. Cook for 4-5 minutes. Add chicken back in, with all the juices accumulated on plate, water chestnuts and green onions. Stir to combine everything and let cook for 3 more minutes. 

Finally, add the sauce to the mixture. Mix to combine everything and let cook only for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and add to a serving bowl.

Make your lettuce wraps. Spoon some of the chicken mixture into a lettuce leaf, and top with your favorite toppings! 

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