One day last week at 4pm, also known as the hungry hour, asian lettuce wraps popped into my mind, and I craved them for days until I could get to the grocery store. Did anyone else have the torturous/addicting experience of your waiter at PF Changs mixing up that mysteriously delicious sauce in those little white ramekins before your food arrived, leaving you alone to dip your chopsticks in it until you had something to eat?
I'm realizing how desperate this sounds now that I'm telling you, but that sauce is so good, right? As an adult who knows a bit more about food than I did the last time I was at PF Changs probably 5 years ago, I recognize that this sauce isn't mysterious: soy sauce, hot mustard and rice wine vinegar. That's it! And it tastes like gold on every thing. Including these freshened up lettuce wraps. I can't wait to put it on everything Asian for the rest of my life.
While the chicken mixture packs plenty of flavor punch, I love the addition of some fresh veggies, brown rice and basil, plus this totally take lettuce wraps from appetizer to entree status. Pile on anything you fancy: thinly sliced onions, peppers, carrots, cucumbers, fresh lime juice... the more, the merrier.
An aside, no one ever won a beauty contest eating lettuce wraps. Just let the sauce run down your arms.
chicken lettuce wraps :: ginger, basil, fresh veggies
Serves four; adapted from Iowa Girl Eats. This is a super simple base recipe for lettuce wraps, but you can easily adjust the toppings and flavor to suit your wildest lettuce wrap dreams. Kick-up the spice, veggies, ginger, garlic... It's going to be great.
What you'll need:
1 lb ground chicken or turkey
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch knob fresh ginger, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced.
1 T soy sauce
1 T sesame oil, plus more for sautéing
1 T rice wine vinegar
1 T natural peanut butter
1 T honey
1 T sriracha sauce
3 green onions, chopped
1 8oz can water chestnuts, chopped
1 head romaine lettuce, leaves separated
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced into matchsticks
1/2 cucumber, sliced into matchsticks
handful of basil leaves
1 lime, sliced for garnish
For the sauce:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 T dijon mustard (or chinese hot mustard if you want to make a fancy purchase)
1 tsp sriracha sauce, more to taste
Saute chopped onion in 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Once sweated, add in ground chicken and continually stir the chicken to break it up into small pieces. Cook until there is no more pink, 7-10 minutes.
In a small sauce pan, heat soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, peanut butter, honey, and sriracha. Whisk until combined and turn off heat.
Pour sauce over chicken; add garlic, ginger and jalapeno. Cook a couple minutes to incorporate. Add water chestnuts and green onions. Cook just until heated through.
Assembly time. Scoop rice, a generous amount of the chicken mixture, and toppings into a lettuce leaf. The opposite of taco assembly is true here: the more packed the lettuce wrap, the easier it is to eat (the best news). Pour some sauce, squeeze a lime and eat!