Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Let me just tell you right now that these lettuce wraps are a staple in our house. We eat them every few weeks and I never grow tired of them. They are a great weeknight meal that is bursting with flavors and satisfying, but it's also light and won't leave you feeling overly full or weighed down.
These come together in a breeze and I love anything that involves ground meat because I always have a few packages in my freezer ready to go for an easy meal. It also has a perfect task for an eager kitchen helper -- ask them to pull the lettuce leaves apart to make your lettuce cups. If you're using iceberg lettuce, this can be particularly tedious so it will keep them busy for a bit! Boston bibb or butter lettuce is a little easier to work with and can form around the meat to make a "wrap" a little easier. I use either type, it just depends on what the store has that day and what looks best.
While these are a lovely dinner, they also are a great option for make-ahead lunches for the week. They can be eaten hot or cold, so whip up the recipe on Sunday and pull apart your lettuce cups and store the filling and the lettuce separately in the fridge. Then at lunch time, just pull out a few lettuce cups and fill them for a delicious lunch.
These are bound to become a repeat meal in your house just like they are in ours. Enjoy!
1lb. ground chicken (or turkey)
1/4 C. + 1 TB low sodium soy sauce*
2 TB rice wine vinegar
1 lime, juiced
1 TB toasted sesame oil
1 C. small diced bell pepper (red, yellow, or orange)
2 scallions, thinly sliced (white to light green part)
1 can drained and roughly chopped water chestnuts
1 tsp. minced garlic*
1 tsp. grated ginger*
1 tsp. cornstarch
2 TB minced cilantro*
1 head of lettuce (Boston bibb or iceberg)*
Cook the chicken in a large pan over medium heat with 1 TB of sesame oil until cooked through and most of the liquid/fat has evaporated (if any). Once cooked, push the chicken to the outside edges of the pan.
Add the other tablespoon of sesame oil to the center of the pan along with the bell pepper, scallions, water chestnuts, garlic and ginger. Stir to coat everything with the oil then you can incorporate all of the ingredients with the chicken. Cook on medium for 3-5 minutes until the peppers are starting to soften but still have a bite to them.
Add 1/4 C. of soy sauce plus the rice wine vinegar and lime juice to the pan and stir so that all of the chicken is coated in the sauce mixture. Let simmer for 5 minutes over medium-low to low heat, stirring occasionally.
While chicken simmers, mix together the remaining 1 TB of soy cause with 1 tsp. of cornstarch in a small cup or bowl, making sure there are no lumps of cornstarch remaining.
If it isn't already, turn the pan with the chicken to low and stir in the soy sauce-cornstarch mixture. Make sure to continuously stir and mix together the chicken and the cornstarch mixture until totally combined and beginning to thicken.
Let everything simmer for another 2-5 minutes on low, stirring occasionally until everything is thickened and no longer soupy or liquidy.
Remove from heat, stir in the cilantro and transfer the chicken mixture to a bowl for serving.
Make cups from the lettuce by breaking it off from the stem, being as careful as possible to not break or split the pieces (but it's ok if you do!)
Spoon the chicken into the lettuce cups and enjoy this light and tasty meal!
Recipe Notes + Variations
Feel free to use your soy sauce of choice. I find regular to be way too salty so I always opt for low sodium. You can definitely use coconut aminos or teriyaki sauce here too!
This is a great spot to use jarred, minced garlic. Just scoop a teaspoon out and you're done. No peeling and smashing required.
I keep fresh ginger root in my freezer in a ziptop bag that way I always have it on hand and it's much easier to grate. Just take a chunk out of the freezer and grate as much as you need with a microplane. Put whatever is left back in the freezer for your next dish. I recommend peeling it when you get home from the grocery store first then storing it in the freezer -- it's a lot harder to peel when it's frozen.
If you don't like cilantro, just leave it out. It will still be fantastic.
I change this recipe up from time to time since I do make it so often. Sometimes I'll add red pepper flake or sriracha for a kick. I've also added a bit of hoisin sauce for a touch of sweetness and that unmistakable umami.
If you can't find Boston bibb or iceberg lettuce or it just isn't looking great at the store that week, you can definitely use romaine lettuce instead. They will just be more of a lettuce boat than a lettuce wrap. I've done this and it's just as good.