Chicken and veggie lettuce cups

This dish dates back before PF Chang’s, but the modern-day version has evolved from the Cantonese original made with squab. I use more veggies than chicken, but it’s all chopped small and blends right in. Even my kids who won’t touch the lettuce wolf down the savory chicken/veggie mixture over rice. Loosely adapted from Leite’s Culinaria.

Ingredients

  • 1.25 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry (or white wine, or sake, or skip it)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, cut into 1/4″ dice (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 large or 2 small stalks celery, cut into 1/4″ dice (about 2/3 cup)
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into 1/4″ dice (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4″ dice (about 2 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil

Sauce ingredients

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ginger, minced
  • 4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white or rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Crushed red pepper or sriracha sauce, to taste

For serving

  • Butter lettuce or iceberg leaves, rinsed and dried
  • Chopped cilantro or peanuts, for garnish (optional)

Preparation

  1. Mince chicken finely (slice into strips, then cut into fine dice). Add soy sauce, dry sherry and minced garlic and mix well. Set aside.
  2. Cut vegetables into small (1/4″) dice.
  3. Mix sauce ingredients until well combined, using a spoon to press out any lumps of cornstarch.
  4. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon cooking oil. Add vegetables and cook for a few minutes, until they are beginning to soften but still bright (they’ll get cooked a bit more later, so a little underdone is good). Remove to a bowl.
  5. Return the skillet to the stove over medium-high heat, heating 2 tablespoons oil. Add chicken and cook, using a spatula or wooden spoon to separate the pieces of chicken. When chicken is cooked through (no pink), add vegetables back to the skillet, along with the prepared sauce, and cook for a minute, stirring, until sauce thickens and everything is well coated. Remove from heat. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
  6. Spoon a dollop of filling in each lettuce leaf. Garnish with chopped cilantro or peanuts, if you like.

Serves 4 as a meal, or 8+ as an appetizer.

Notes

  • Feel free to substitute other fresh vegetables, such as mushrooms or red peppers. In a pinch, you could also use canned vegetables such as water chestnuts or bamboo shoots.
  • Koon Chun makes the best hoisin sauce – thick, with a deep salty-sweet flavor. It’s not typically found at a regular supermarket, but it’s widely available at Asian markets. If you can’t find it, Lee Kum Kee also gets good reviews.

Here’s a link back to the post and pictures.

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