I felt like having Chinese food for dinner tonight and started thinking about P.F. Chang’s restaurant. We haven’t eaten there in years, but I remember how much I loved their chicken lettuce wraps. Well, I didn’t have any chicken, but I did have some ground pork so I thought, why not? Couldn’t I create something using pork as a substitute? Here’s what I came up with. The family loved it! I called the dish “Asian” because it was inspired by the wraps from a Chinese restaurant, but teriyaki marinade is Japanese, the noodles are Filipino, the peanut sauce is Indonesian, and the Mae Ploy sauce is Thai. LOL! A delicious blend of Asian flavors!
ASIAN LETTUCE CUPS
Prepare the Meat:
- 1 lb. ground chicken or ground pork (I used ground pork)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bottle Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki marinade & sauce (or use your favorite brand)
- 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 can (8 ozs.) waterchestnuts, diced
- 1 stalk green onion, thinly sliced
- 4-6 shitake mushroom caps, finely diced (optional)
- 1 jalapeño, seeded & minced (optional)
- Brown ground meat and garlic in a medium saucepot.
- Drain excess oil, if any.
- Stir in 1/2 cup teriyaki marinade and let cook for 2-3 minutes, then taste the meat. If it seems lacking in flavor, add more teriyaki sauce, a tablespoon at a time, until the flavor is to your liking. Be careful not to add too much or it will be too salty! I like Soy Vay teriyaki marinade but you could really use whatever brand you like.
- Stir in grated ginger, cook for a minute more, and then taste the meat again. Just like with the teriyaki sauce, you can add more grated ginger, a teaspoon at a time, till the flavor is to your liking.
- Stir in the water chestnuts, green onion, shitake mushrooms and jalapeño. Depending on how big your shitake mushroom caps are, you can add more or less, or omit them entirely if you don’t like them at all. Same thing with the jalapeño. You can add more than one if you want the dish spicier, or omit it altogether.
Make the Peanut Sauce:
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- ½ cup water
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1½ tbsp. fish sauce
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. lime juice
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 tbsp. grated ginger
- Combine all ingredients in a small saucepot and cook over medium heat, stirring with a wire whisk until well blended.
- The sauce thickens as it cools. If it becomes too thick, add more water, a tablespoon at a time, till it reaches the consistency you want.
Prepare Remaining Ingredients:
- 1-2 heads butter lettuce
- 1 pkg. bean thread or cellophane noodles
- 1 carrot, julienned
- 1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1 bunch basil leaves, chopped
- 1 bunch mint leaves, chopped
- 1 cup peanuts, finely chopped (optional)
- Mae Ploy sweet chilli sauce
- Carefully separate larger, outer lettuce leaves and wash and dry them well.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the noodles and let boil just until softened, about 2 minutes or so. Drain into a colander, run cold water over them, then allow to drain and cool completely.
- Place all the condiments in separate little serving bowls.
- Have everyone assemble their own wraps.
- Place a lettuce leaf on your plate.
- Top with some noodles, then meat, carrots, and herbs.
- Pour a little peanut sauce over the top.
- Add a little Mae Ploy sweet chilli sauce.
- Then finally, sprinkle top with chopped peanuts if desired.
- If your lettuce leaf is big enough, you can roll it into a little log and call it a lettuce wrap. If not, just serve it open-faced with a fork and knife and call it a lettuce cup like I did! A rose by any other name, right?
NOTE: If you don’t like ground chicken or ground pork, you can make this dish with whole boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Mix the teriyaki marinade and grated ginger together (omit the rest of the ingredients). Marinate the chicken in the teriyaki-ginger mixture for at least an hour, preferably overnight. Grill the chicken or bake it in the oven. Slice cooked chicken into thin strips. Then continue with the recipe.