To me, the ideal summer meal comes together relatively quickly without turning on the oven. These chicken lettuce wraps are just that; the most labor-intensive part is in chopping all the fresh produce, and then it cooks up in less than 15 minutes on the stovetop. It’s a wonderful family dinner or summer party finger food. I love the vibrant colors and flavors here, especially the kick of ginger and sweet hoisin sauce and the subtle notes of orange. Some lightly sautéed bell pepper and crushed peanuts give it some lovely crunch. I use romaine lettuce as I think it stands up better than traditional iceberg to hold all that delicious filling inside and to me has more flavor. Make these fresh & vibrant chicken lettuce wraps and you won’t ever crave the Chinese restaurant ones again!
Chinese-Style Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Adapted from Rachael Ray’s recipe on the Food Network
- About 10 fresh shiitake mushrooms, washed & stems removed, tops halved then sliced thin to make 2 cups of sliced shiitakes
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 inch ginger root, finely grated on a microplane grater
- 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into a small dice
- 1/2 cup shredded carrot (one medium carrot)
- 1/2 red bell pepper, diced small
- 2 scallions, diced
- 1 orange, zested and cut into wedges for garnish
- 1.5 lbs. chicken breast (4 chicken breast halves) or chicken tenders, cut into very small pieces, about 1/2-cm. cubes or smaller
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- Fine sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 2 tsp. sambal oelek or other hot pepper sauce
- 1/4 cup crushed unsalted peanuts
- 6 chives, chopped (extra left long for garnish if desired)
- 2 full romaine lettuce bunches, thoroughly washed and stems removed (about 20 leaves of varying sizes)
- Prep the fresh ingredients and set aside in separate prep bowls as you go: Wash mushrooms, remove their stems, halve and slice the tops. Mince the garlic, grate the ginger, dice the 1/2 bell pepper, shred the carrot, dice the scallions and zest the orange (then slice and set aside wedges for garnish). Crush the unsalted peanuts in a mortar & pestle or use a knife to chop and crush; wash & chop the chives.
- Cut the chicken into the smallest pieces you can (no larger than 1/2-cm. cubes) and sprinkle lightly with salt & pepper (note: if you are using salted peanuts, go easy on the salt here or omit). Heat oil in a large skillet and cook the chicken until it is no longer translucent, 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- When chicken is no longer translucent (but not fully cooked through yet), add the mushroom slices, garlic, ginger, bell pepper, carrot and scallions and let cook through, about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally (cover to hasten the cooking time).
- Add the orange zest, hoisin sauce, and sambal oelek and stir; taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Turn the heat off and add the peanuts and chives, mix once more and give it a final taste. Adjust seasonings as necessary, then transfer filling to a large serving bowl.
- To serve, scoop a few spoonfuls of the filling into the romaine leaves, or let guests assemble their own. Set out orange wedges and extra chives for garnish if desired; I found a little spritz of orange over the top brings out the vibrant flavors. You might also like to serve it with steamed white sticky rice; my little one enjoyed filling her wraps mostly with rice and a little filling. Enjoy!