Saturday, November 3, 2012

Chicken Lettuce Cups

It's been so long since I've actually been to a P.F. Changs I can't really remember what their famous appetizer tastes like. But if my faint memory serves me right, this is pretty darn close. Even if my mind is playing tricks on me and I am completely off my rocker, which- let's be honest here- is completely possible probable, they're still so good that I don't even care how close they are to the real thing and might even write to the president of P.F. Changs and ask him/her to change their recipe. 'Cause these are rockin'.

I switched out the water chestnuts for chopped cashews and walnuts because 1. My very DNA is programmed to be unable to follow a recipe as it is written and 2. ...... I didn't have any water chestnuts. Improvisation is the spice of life, no? I have no idea if that's true, but it worked out well here.

While recipes in autumn and winter generally call for heavy, grease laden dishes that sink to the bottom of your stomach and make you feel like you ingested 5 pounds of bricks, these chicken lettuce cups give you vegetables, fiber, healthy fats and lean protein. They fill your hard-working belly without making you feel like you need to roll away from the dinner table a-la Violet Beauregard.

Chicken Lettuce Cups

Adapted from Food Network

makes 4 servings

For the Chicken:
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon rice wine
1/2 teaspoon togarashi
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, diced and pulsed in food processor until ground
     *Alternatively you could use pre-ground chicken
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil

For the Stir-Fry Sauce:
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon agave syrup
2 teaspoons cornstarch

For the Stir-Fry:
tablespoon sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
4 scallions; 2 minced, 2 cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup carrot, diced
1/2 cup mushrooms, finely diced (I used 1 large portobello cap)
1 cup chopped nuts (I used a mixture of cashews and walnuts)

Lettuce leaves (washed and spun dry) and sesame seeds, for serving and garnish

Whisk the egg white, cornstarch, rice wine and togarashi in a bowl. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Trim and wash the lettuce leaves, drying with a salad spinner or paper towels. Place on a plate and keep in the refrigerator until stir fry is ready.

Whisk 1/3 cup water, the oyster, hoisin and soy sauces, mirin, sesame oil and agave syrup in a bowl, then whisk in the cornstarch until dissolved. Set aside.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Toast the nuts until fragrant, about 1 minute. They burn quickly so be careful. Remove nuts to a clean bowl and set aside.

Heat the 1/2 tablespoon of sesame oil in the skillet and add the chicken. Cook through, stirring, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove when chicken is no longer pink anywhere with a slotted spoon to a plate.  Add the 1 tablespoon of sesame oil to the skillet. When it shimmers in the pan, add the carrot and mushrooms, stir fry for 2-3 minutes, until the mushrooms just start to give up their water. Then stir in the garlic and scallions, stir fry for 30 seconds, stirring continuously.  Add in the nuts and chicken. Pour in the stir-fry sauce and chicken and cook 1 minute.

Spoon filling into chilled lettuce cups, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with steamed brown rice.


  1. These look beautiful. So fresh, so tasty

  2. Love this recipe! Will be linking back to this in my upcoming post :)


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