Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

In an earlier post, I talked about my restaurant snobbery.  Part of this concept is turning my nose up at chain restaurants because I think they are haven of deep-friend boring-ness and a disgusting waste of precious calories.  I think there are a few that have SALADS clocking in at well over 2000 calories.  I don't even how you shove 2000 calories into a salad, but they manage.  Now, I didn't say these places had disgusting food, I said it was a disgusting waste of calories.  Because I'm pretty sure that any salad with that many calories has fried chicken on it and is doused with a LOT of ranch.  And I love friend chicken AND ranch, so if I had that many calories to spare on a given day, I'd probably put my snobbery aside and dive face first into a humongous bowl of ranchy-fried-chicken-on-a-bed-of-iceberg-deliciousness.  But that's not going to happen, so instead we are going to discuss the only acceptable chain restaurant, and that restaurant is PF Chang's.

I thought that maybe I loved Chang's more than anyone I know, but then I remembered that I'm friends with a girl named Kara.  In case you are wondering, she's the one who lost to Yours Truly in an EPIC guacamole smackdown.  In her own home.  With her own husband being one of the judges.  THAT friend Kara.  Anyway, she loves Chang's more than me.  And more than anyone we know.  And probably more than anyone on earth.  So much that she'll go on a business trip to AMAZING food cities like San Francisco and New York and will seek out a PF Chang's near her hotel and order takeout.  Now that is dedication.  I'm probably going to get in big trouble for this post, because she'll SWEAR she doesn't do that any more and that she "doesn't even like Chang's that much these days", but this is a lie.  She loves it so much that she refuses to allow anyone to go without her.  And just to put this little "rule" in perspective, this lady lives 2500 miles away.  So inviting her on a Chang's excursion isn't really convenient, but still I find myself feeling guilty going to eat there without her.  So I DON'T!  A couple of weeks ago, some friends of ours met up for dinner and originally we were going to go to Chang's, but we decided not to because it would make Kara sad.  I mean, for real?

Anywho, because I'm not allowed to go to the only allowable chain restaurant, I had to re-create my favorite Chang's cuisine at home.  Lettuce wraps are the best idea ever.  Its like tacos without the carb-loading guilt.  And it has lettuce in the title, so it MUST be healthy.  Agree?  Agree!

Chicken (Turkey) Lettuce Wraps
Source: Inspired by Kalyn's Kitchen

1 Tbs canola or vegetable oil
1 medium shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs minced fresh ginger
1 lb ground chicken (I used turkey)
2 Tbs soy sauce
¼ cup bottled chili sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 can water chestnuts, chopped
½ cup chopped white mushrooms
½ cup minced fresh cilantro
1/3 cup minced peanuts
1 head butter or Boston lettuce, separated
few handfuls shredded cabbage
Chow mein noodles for garnish

Heat oil in a wok or large skillet. Stir fry shallots in hot oil for several minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and stir fry for 1 minute. Add the ground meat and separate for even cooking. Stir in water chestnuts and mushrooms.  Stir in soy sauce, chili sauce, and sesame oil.

Cook until meat is brown and crumbly and the liquid is reduced, stirring frequently. Stir in cilantro. Spoon the meat mixture into a serving bowl. Place cabbage and peanuts in small bowls and the lettuce on a platter.

Self serve: Spoon meat mixture onto a lettuce leaf and top with cabbage, peanuts, and chow mein noodles, roll, and eat.


  1. I LOVE P.F. Changs. I used to have one close to me back home. Now the closest one is about 40 mins away, so annoying! Anywho, I definitely agree about the 2000 calories in a salad and deep-fried food at chain restaurants. Although I do LOVE Macaroni Grill. I'll eat their bread and pasta any day.

  2. Please make this for me one day! Pleeeease! :)