Serves: 8 as an appetizer, 4 as a main dish

Spicy Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Serves: 8 as an appetizer, 4 as a main dish


1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons peanut oil
3/4 cup finely sliced scallions, including white and 3 inches of green (about 1 bunch)
3 tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons very finely diced jalapeno pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh lemongrass (optional)
1 tablespoons minced garlic
1 can (8 ounces) water chestnuts, rinsed, drained, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 baby bok choy (about 8 ounces) including white ribs, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce, homemade or store-bought
1/4 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
1 tablespoon Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce (optional)
3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh cilantro or mint leaves
2 heads of Boston lettuce or 1 head iceberg lettuce, leaves individually separated, rinsed, and dried
Asian Dipping Sauce (optional)


Spread the chicken on a plate. Place 2 tablespoons of the cornstarch in a sieve and sprinkle it evenly over the chicken.

Heat 1 tablespoon each of sesame oil and peanut oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until it is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a medium-size bowl, leaving the pan juices in the skillet. Set the chicken aside.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon each of sesame oil and peanut oil to the skillet. Add the scallions, ginger, jalapeno, lemongrass, if using, and garlic and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the water chestnuts, bok choy, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, mirin, and fish sauce, if using. Cook, stirring frequently, until the bok choy wilts and the sauce is hot, 3 to 5 minutes.

Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken mixture to the center of a large platter and cover it loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm. Whisk the remaining 1 tablespoon of cornstarch into the liquid remaining in the skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens. Pour the sauce over the chicken.

Sprinkle the cilantro over the chicken mixture and arrange the lettuce leaves around the edge of the platter. Divide the Asian Dipping Sauce, if using, among individual small sauce bowls. To assemble the wraps, spoon a few tablespoons of the chicken mixture into a lettuce leaf. Loosely roll the lettuce around the chicken and dip the lettuce into the dipping sauce, if desired, before eating.

Excerpted from Food to Live By by Myra Goodman with Linda Holland and Pamela McKinstry with permission from Workman Publishing © 2006. Photos by Patrick Tregenza

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