Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps

At first, I was a little scared by the length of the ingredient list. While the meal made a bit of a mess in my kitchen, it came together very quickly and was not a lot of work. It was ready in just under an hour, and mostly just required lots of chopping and slicing. The wraps had nice flavor, but were too muted. Perhaps it would benefit from a tablespoon of Asian chili sauce, or perhaps the missing hoisin sauce was the key missing ingredient. These wraps were very reminiscent of these Thai Pork Lettuce Wraps that I made 1-1/2 years ago. These were 3-1/2 stars.

While the ingredient list is massive, they come together quickly.

Additional Comments:

  1. These wraps were good, but needed a little more kick; either more heat or more sweetness There is certainly potential for these to be at least 4-stars. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice until the last minute that I didn’t have any Hoisin sauce (used as condiment for serving). I had no time to come up with a substitute, which might have contributed to the 3-1/2 star rating.
  2. I’d recommend using chicken thighs as specified in the recipe, but today I substituted chicken breasts because I already had them in my refrigerator. However if you do use chicken breasts, I’d recommend increasing the other chicekn ingredients by 50% (the four ingredients only under the chicken section) to help offset the less-flavorful cut of chicken.
  3. I couldn’t find Bibb lettuce so used Boston lettuce.

Rating: 3-1/2 stars.
Cost: $11.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Medium/High.
Started: 5:30 PM.  Dinner:  6:30 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare it today are given below:

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 teaspoons Chinese rice cooking wine (or substitute dry sherry)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese rice cooking wine (or substitute dry sherry)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 celery ribs
6-oz shiitake mushrooms
1/2 cup water chestnuts (about 2-1/4 oz)
2 scallions (white/green parts minced cut differently)
2 garlic cloves
1 head Bibb lettuce (8 ounces)
Hoisin sauce

  1. Trim away any excess fat from chicken and cut roughly into 1″ pieces. Arrange chicken in single layer on large plate, and freeze for 20 minutes. You want to freeze only until firm (not frozen).
  2. Meanwhile combine rice wine, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, and cornstarch in medium bowl.
  3. Working in two batches, pulse the partially-frozen chicken in food processor 10 times per batch. Add the chopped chicken to the medium bowl with the slurry. Stir together until the chicken is evenly coated and put in refrigerator for 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk together all ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl or cup. Set aside for now.
  5. Use the remaining refrigeration time to prepare all the vegetables for the stir-fry.  Cut your celery ribs into 1/4″ dice. Remove the stems from your mushrooms, and slice them thin. Drain 1/2-cup of water chestnuts and cut them into 1/4″ dice. Cut your scallions two ways; mince the white part and slice the green part thin (as garnish). Peel your two garlic cloves so that they will be ready to press directly into the skillet. Finally, remove the lettuce leaves whole, because they will be used as a wrap. Gently wash the lettuce to remove any dirt and spin the leaves dry in a salad spinner.
  6. Place a 12″ non-stick skillet over a high burner. Preheat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil until it begins to smoke. Saute chicken for 4 minutes, then remove to a clean serving bowl.
  7. Wipe out skillet and add 1 more tablespoon vegetable oil, and again preheat until it begins to smoke. Saute celery and mushrooms for 4 minutes. Add diced water chestnuts, scallion whites and press garlic cloves directly into skillet. Continue to saute for 1 more minutes. Remove from heat.
  8. Return chicken to skillet and stir to re-heat the chicken. Re-whisk the sauce to combine and add to skillet. Stir until everything is combined. Either transfer to a serving bowl, or pre-assemble wraps on individual plates.
  9. Serve, sprinkling with scallion greens and passing Hoisin sauce separately.

3 Responses to Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps

  1. Pati says:

    This was DELICIOUS!! I impressed even myself!

  2. Jane says:

    Made them yesterday; I too thought they needed a little extra kick but my husband, who doesn’t like spicy food as much as I do, really liked them.

    By the way, love your website. I’m a big ATK fan and it is interesting to see the recipes you make.

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