Cook the Book: Chicken Lettuce Cups

[Photographs: Ben Fink]

When I sat down to choose recipes for this week's Cook the Book featuring Guy Fieri Food, things got real meaty real fast.

Pounds of bacon, hulking briskets, steaks, and more than a few chickens made their way onto my grocery list, but I was determined to include at least one recipe that could be construed as vaguely healthy (not that the word "healthy" is in Fieri's vernacular).

Our healthy Guy Fieri-approved recipe this week comes in the form of these Chicken Lettuce Cups. Full of diced veggies and Asian-inspired ingredients, these lettuce cups are a big crowdpleaser with caramel-y bites of chicken and crushed, fried wonton skins wrapped up in a crisp leaf of iceberg.

Similar to another favorite lettuce wrap (cough, P.F. Chang's, cough) these have a great salty-sweet thing going but are loaded with many more vegetables for great crunch and visual appeal, plus sesame seeds and peanuts for nuttiness.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps are wonderful for warm weather grazing—these have already been on my summer dinner table many times this season. The chilled iceberg leaves are refreshing, especially with a cold beer or two, but are also enjoyable at room temperature.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Guy Fieri Food to give away this week.

Reprinted with permission from Guy Fieri Food by Guy Fieri. Copyright © 2011. Published by William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

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Cook the Book: Chicken Lettuce Cups

About This Recipe

Yield:10
Active time:40 minutes
Total time:40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups canola oil
  • 5 wonton wrappers
  • 1 iceberg lettuce head
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1/3 cup 1/4-inch-diced red onion (about 1/2 small onion)
  • 1/3 cup 1/4-inch-diced red bell pepper (about 1/4 pepper)
  • 1/3 cup 1/4-inch-diced carrot (about 1/2 medium carrot)
  • 1/3 cup 1/4-inch-diced celery (about 1/2 celery stalk)
  • 1/3 cup 1/4-inch-diced sugar snap peas (about 10 peas)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup sliced stemmed shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup mung bean sprouts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, 1/2-inch diced
  • Plum Sesame Sambal Sauce (recipe follows)
  • 2 tablespoons sliced green onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced unsalted peanuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon black sesame seeds
  • Plum Sesame Sambal Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds (To toast sesame seeds, shake them in a skillet over medium- high heat until golden brown)
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon chili-garlic sauce
  • 1 tablespoon plum sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon mirin (sweetened rice wine)

Procedures

  1. 1

    For the Plum Sesame Sambal Sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a jar with a lid. Shake well before serving.

  2. 2

    For the Chicken Lettuce Cups: In a heavy saucepan, heat 2 cups canola oil to 350°F over medium heat, or until a bit of wonton wrapper sizzles when added. Add the wonton wrappers and fry for about 35 seconds, until lightly browned. Drain on a paper-towellined plate. Crush the wrappers and set aside.

  3. 3

    Cut the lettuce in half from top to bottom, remove the core, and carefully remove the 10 nicest leaves. Wash the lettuce in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Stack the lettuce cups on a plate and refrigerate.

  4. 4

    In a medium wok or large skillet over high heat, add 2 tablespoons canola oil. When the oil is hot, add the ginger, onion, and bell pepper. Cook 3 minutes, then add the carrot and celery and cook 2 minutes. Add the snap peas, garlic, shiitake mushrooms, and mung bean sprouts and cook 2 minutes more. Remove the vegetables from the wok and set aside. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the wok. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and cook, constantly stirring, until cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes. Return the vegetables to the wok with the chicken, then immediately add ¼ cup of the Plum Sesame Sambal Sauce and stir, scraping up any browned bits. Cook for 30 seconds, or until the sauce thickens.

  5. 5

    Transfer the chicken and vegetable mixture to a serving bowl and top with the green onion, crushed wontons, peanuts, and sesame seeds.

  6. 6

    Serve by spooning chicken mixture into lettuce cups. Serve the remaining Plum Sesame Sambal Sauce alongside. Unused portion will last refrigerated for 14 days.

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