Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps

the chicken lettuce wraps are my favorite appetizer at p.f. changs. me along with the rest of america i am guessing. there is something about the dark, rich flavor of the warm chicken in the cool, crisp lettuce that is simply irresistible.

here's the thing though - i'm a little weird. i don't like how messy they are to eat. i seem to end up with sauce running down my arms after the first bite of the wrap. i also prefer romaine over iceberg because iceberg has the nutritional value of a glass of water. the other thing i don't really love is the crispy rice noodle-things. yes, that's the technical term. maybe i'm the only one, but i don't love the flavor. they taste like styrofoam-y to me.

so i made a couple of changes to the dish. i added brown rice to the actual mixture and omitted the crispy bedding. plus, i chopped lettuce and served the chicken mixture on top of the chopped lettuce.

i still served it in the lettuce cups for E, but i enjoyed not making a mess all over myself. hoisin is the key ingredient here but i think the chili garlic sauce is just as important. it adds just enough spice to the chicken.

this recipe is actually my third attempt at replicating p.f. changs wraps. the first two just weren't quite right so i kept tweaking it until it tasted right. this version is the best yet. E even requested them again.

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Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps
makes 8 lettuce wraps

1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced small
3 tbs vegetable oil
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1 cup shiitake mushrooms
1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts
2 cups cooked brown basmati rice
romaine lettuce leaves, washed and taken off the head (whole or chopped)

sauce ingredients:
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sherry wine or red wine
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1 tsp chinese chili garlic sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch

heat wok over medium-high heat. add 2 tbs vegetable oil and add chopped chicken. saute until cooked through and remove from wok. set aside on plate.

meanwhile, whisk together ingredients for sauce in a medium bowl and set aside.

add remaining oil, ginger, and garlic. cook, stirring occasionally for 1 minute. add green onions and mushrooms and cook 2-3 minutes. add water chestnuts, rice, and chicken back to the wok. stir well to combine. pour sauce over mixture and cook, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens.

serve immediately by spooning into lettuce cups or over chopped lettuce.

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