Severaaallll years ago, I got a small sushi making kit and got very into making my own rolls. As a birthday gift, my friend Jasmine, got me this killer book on Asian cooking. I am embarrassed to write that I've hardly touched it in the last 7-8 years. In a recent moment of inspiration, I decided to make us Chinese Chicken Lettuce cups for a fun Sunday dinner. This recipe is easy, but requires multiple sauces. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the dried vermicelli at our local Vons and regret that I did not make the 10 minute drive to the Asian Supermarket, because these were not quite complete without the "crunch" that vermicelli provide.
Orange Chili Chicken In Lettuce Cups
Preparation Time: 40 minutes
Total Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Serves 4 as a starter
500g (1 lb) Chicken Mince (Ground Chicken, in American-speak)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
peanut oil, for deep-frying
60g (2 oz) dried rice vermicelli noodles, broken up (I didn't have these, and they were greatly missed)
1 red pepper, finely chopped
120g (4 oz) can water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 iceberg or romaine lettuce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon teriyaki sauce
1 tablespoon mild-hot chili sauce
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons finely grated orange rind
1 teaspoon corn flour
1/ Mix together the chicken mince, soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil, cover and refrigerate.
2/ Half-fill a wok, deep-fryer or large, heavy-based pan with oil and heat to moderately hot. Add the rice noodles in small patches (they increase in size rapidly, causing the oil to rise) and fry for 1-2 seconds, or until puffed. Remove and drain on paper towels.
3/ To make the sauce, combine all the ingredients and stir until the cornflour has dissolved. Set aside.
4/ Heat a little peanut oil in a wok or large pan. Add the chicken mixture and fry for 3-4 minutes, breaking up any lumps with a fork or wooden spoon. Add the red pepper, water chestnuts, spring onion and ginger to the pan and toss for 1-2 minutes. Add the sauce to the pan and stir for about 1 minute, or until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and mix in the noodles, reserving a few for garnish. Form the lettuce leaves into 8 cups by trimming the edges and divide the chicken mixture among them. Sprinkle the reserved noodles on top.
I like to serve this dish with the lettuce leaves in a stack, unfilled, so you can "make your own" lettuce cup, as-you-go. It's more fun!