30-Minute Chicken Lettuce Wraps

IMG_0123Our love affair with these wraps began many years ago, but I’ve resisted sharing it with you because even though I’ve tweaked and personalized the recipe my daughter got from one of the families she babysits for, I do not know the original source. I am pretty sure it was inspired by the wraps they serve at P.F. Chang’s restaurant, but I cannot give proper credit. What I do know is they’re incredibly flavorful, fun to eat and the recipe goes together in 30 minutes or less. And that I make them every other week.

The slightly sweet and crunchy water chestnuts are one of the key ingredients. What is a water chestnut anyway? It’s the edible tuber part of an indigenous Southeast Asian plant that grows under water. Unlike their name, they are not a nut, but a vegetable with a brownish black paper-thin skin. They get their name because they resemble a chestnut. We are most familiar with the canned version that comes peeled and either whole or sliced. But they can be bought fresh at Asian markets and simply peeled before using in recipes.

Hoisin sauce is a staple ingredient in my pantry and once opened in my refrigerator. It’s a slightly thick, brownish sauce with a sweet and mildly spicy flavor. It’s made from a mixture of soybeans, garlic, chile peppers and spices and is widely used in Chinese cooking. Most grocery stores stock it in the Asian section.

Sesame oil is another one of my pantry basics. It’s extracted from sesame seeds and comes in a light and dark version. I prefer the dark for its strong flavor and how it adds depth to anything it’s added to. Look for it in the Asian section of the grocery store, as well.

P.S. I hope you like my newly revised site. It is still under construction so look for more changes soon. But in the mean time, it should be easier to navigate and find the recipes you are looking for.

30-Minute Chicken Lettuce Wraps
 
Serves: 4 (8 wraps)
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 1-1/2 pounds ground chicken
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 (5 ounce) cans whole or sliced water chestnuts, rinsed, drained and chopped
  • ½ cup roughly chopped roasted peanuts
  • ⅓ cup hoisin sauce
  • ⅓ cup chopped green onion
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 2-3 tablespoons regular or reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 8 romaine or Bibb lettuce leaves, bottom stem/stalk trimmed (about 1 head)
Instructions
  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet; add chicken; season with salt and pepper and cook and stir until cooked through and browned, breaking apart into smaller pieces as it cooks; sprinkle in sesame oil and cook and stir 30 seconds.
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients, except lettuce.
  3. Spoon a heaping ½ cup chicken filling on each lettuce leaf.

 

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