After two months of holiday indulging, my friend Patrick informed me that he was going to lose weight in the new year, to get ready for his upcoming wedding to his fiancé Kelsey. “How are you planning to do that?” I asked, curious to know how this young man, a former college football player who could probably bench press a Volkswagen, would approach the challenge. “Lettuce wraps,” he replied.
Well Patrick, this one is for you. And it comes from my best pal and blogging buddy, the incredible marvelous Jaden Hair of SteamyKitchen.com, from her newly released cookbook, Steamy Kitchen’s Healthy Asian Favorites. (In fact, all of the recipes in her book would be great for your new year resolution, hmmm, maybe I’ll get you a copy as a pre-wedding gift!) These lettuce wraps are easy, fast, and fresh with stir-fried chicken, green onions, shiitake mushrooms (mushroom flavor bombs), and sweet bits of mango, seasoned with sesame oil, rice vinegar, and soy sauce, and served in butter lettuce cups. You can easily whip them up in less than half an hour.
Why the corn starch? It's a cooking trick that you often find in Chinese recipes. The corn starch helps the chicken hold in its moisture and keep it from drying out in the high heat of the stir frying.
Recipe slightly modified from Chicken Mango Lettuce Cups in Steamy Kitchen's Healthy Asian Favorites by Jaden Hair.
- 1 pound ground chicken (I use ground chicken thighs for more flavor)
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon corn starch (or potato or rice starch)
- 1 teaspoon cooking oil (a high smoke point oil would be best such as rice bran oil, grapeseed oil, or canola oil)
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 2 teaspoons seasoned rice vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 large mango, diced (see How to Cut a Mango)
- 1 head of butter lettuce, rinsed, leaves separated
1 Place the ground chicken, soy sauce, and corn starch in a large bowl. Mix to combine.
2 Heat a wok or a large sauté pan on medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add the oil. Add the green onions and sliced shiitakes. Let cook for about a minute.
3 Increase the heat to high, and add the ground chicken, soy sauce, corn starch mixture. Use a wooden spoon to break up the ground chicken and spread around the pan. Stir fry in this way for 5 to 7 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Add the seasoned rice vinegar, sesame oil, and diced mango. Remove from heat. Adjust seasonings (rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce) to taste.
Scoop spoonfuls into the cups formed by the lettuce leaves to serve.
Options - stir in a small spoonful of chili sauce, or add a few chili pepper flakes to the oil as it is heating. Top with some fresh cilantro leaves. Experiment with other meats such as lamb, turkey, beef, or pork. Try subbing out the mango with mandarin orange slices.
Yield:Serves 4 as a main, 8 as an appetizer.