Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Ethnic Diva: Pan-Asian Edition

Its a wrap! A Pan-Asian chicken lettuce wrap to be exact ... and it was spectacular! Savory, spicy, crunchy - this one's got it all.

I was flying blind here, working without a recipe, yet with a firm concept of how I wanted it to taste in mind. Vaguely Chinese in origin - what with the sherry, soy and ginger - I have no idea how traditional it is, but I can tell you the results were magnificent! I garnished the wraps with a bit of chopped roasted peanuts and some cilantro, giving them a Thai inspired twist and an extra dimension of flavor. Yum!

Don't be put off by the long list of ingredients here - this is essentially a stir-fry and as such it come together in flash. A bit of prep, a nice hot skillet, and in just about 30 minutes you can have a fun and festive meal on the table. Now that's what I call Divalicious!

Pan-Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps:

Stir Fry Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. unseasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. sherry (I used Vin Santo)
  • 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 tsp. minced or grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. bottled chili garlic sauce (I like Huy Fong Foods brand)
Combine all of the above in a small bowl and whisk well to incorporate. Reserve.

For the Chicken:
  • 1/4 cup bottled Hoisin Sauce
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 1 tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. unseasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. olive oil, divided
  • 2 tsp. dark Asian sesame oil, divided
  • 1 lb. of ground chicken breast
  • dash of crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 of a medium red onion, peeled and diced
  • one 5 oz. can of sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped
  • 2 large scallions, chopped
  • Some fresh red leaf or Boston lettuce leaves for wrapping (12 - 15 leaves)
  • some chopped fresh cilantro
  • some chopped dry-roasted peanuts
  • bottled Sriracha sauce, optional
In a small bowl, combine the Hoisin sauce, water, soy and rice wine vinegar. Whisk well to incorporate and reserve.

Heat 1 tsp. of olive oil and 1 tsp. of dark sesame oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground chicken and a bit of crushed red pepper flakes, if desired. Saute the chicken, breaking it up into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Saute until the chicken is light golden brown and cooked throughout. Remove from skillet and reserve.

To the same skillet, add 1 tsp. of olive oil and 1 tsp. of dark sesame oil. Heat over medium-high heat and add the red bell pepper, carrots and red onion, and saute until the onion begins to wilt and the veggies are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Add the water chestnuts and stir well to combine. Return the cooked chicken to the pan and add the stir fry sauce, stirring well to combine. Add the reserved Hoisin mixture and, again, stir well to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to very low, cover and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Just before you are ready to serve, add the chopped scallions and stir to combine.

To serve: place some of the chicken and vegetable mixture into the middle of a lettuce leaf, do not over-fill. Garnish with a bit of cilantro and chopped peanuts, top with a bit of Srircha sauce (if desired), roll up the wrap and enjoy!

As written this recipe will serve 4 to 6, depending on portion size.

A couple of quick notes - I chose to use the ground chicken because I just can't be bothered to slice and dice boneless chicken breasts. You could certainly substitute if that is your preference, or even use some cooked chicken instead. But, for my money, you can beat the ground chicken breast for ease of use - and its healthy to boot!

I like to keep things spicy here in Divaland, hence the use of Srircha at the end. If you're heat-averse, you can certainly leave out the crushed red pepper flakes when stir-frying, and replace the Sriracha garnish with some additional Hoisin sauce.

Lastly, feel free to play around with the vegetables as well. I used what I had on hand, but no reason you couldn't include whatever veg you like in the stir-fry. Some chopped Chinese long beans would be outstanding, a bit of mushrooms couldn't hurt - really, you're limited only by your imagination here. Hell, you could even replace that chicken with some tofu if you're so inclined ... but, if so, don't invite me to dinner! ~wink~

This is a quick, easy, relatively healthy meal that's sure to get you out of your what's-for-dinner rut. I hope you'll try it!

Bon appetit!


doggybloggy said...

holy great wall of china this sounds delicious...

Melissa Good Taste said...

Yum yum!

Anonymous said...

The peanuts and cilantro are nice touches. This really balances sweet, spicy and salty very well.

The Diva on a Diet said...

doggybloggy - great wall indeed, it was!

Thanks, Melissa!

Duo - yes, even without a recipe, this turned out to be a great balance. I love it when a meal comes together!

Heavenly Housewife said...

This looks so nice and colourful. I love peanuts, but cant cook with them cause Hubby is allergic to them. But he was very bad today ... ;)

words...words...words... said...

This looks amazing! A lot like those lettuce wraps you get at Asian restaurants, but meal-sized!

Anonymous said...

That. looks. orgasmic.

Oh, and I was thinking. It would be SO awesome if you had an arch-nemesis named Bea, cus then your blog title would be telling her dirty little secret.

I'm odd, I'm sorry.

Tangled Noodle said...

"Flying blind"? By the look of this bit of deliciousness, you had a very clear vision of what you wanted to make! I think ground chicken is a perfect choice - diced chicken might have been too chunky for the lettuce. I wish I hadn't finished the last of our Boston lettuce last night; guess I'll just have to make another grocery run (where I can pick up sriracha, too - I've never tried it before!)

Anonymous said...

I'm all about asian fusion this week :) These wraps sound fabulous! And I have all the ingredients on hand - perfect!

Cookie Brochette said...

Oh my, that's looks delicious. I love lettuce wraps. I've only ever had them at restaurants. This looks like a great summer meal.

Cookie B.

Laurie said...

This looks so yummy I want to drink a toast to you!

And I really want to thank you, sweetie, for being so supportive during my blogging drought. Your friend tiara is shining bright, as always.

stephchows said...

Bring on the spice!! Looks delicious!!