Last night I had people over to my house to watch the Super Bowl and decided to make a light and spicy chicken dish. I really like chicken lettuce wraps, but I’ve only eaten them at restaurants. I figured that I could make them pretty easily at home, so I took a look at what I had in my refrigerator. I used ground chicken breast, but this could be made with dark meat, turkey, or even pork. If you use a fattier meat you can probably leave out the olive oil at the cooking stage.

The ingredients I used mostly reflect what I had one hand. If you can’t find ground chicken, or already have whole cuts at home, go ahead and freeze the meat slightly and just cut it up finely. Partly frozen meat is easier to cut into small pieces than fully thawed meat. This recipe is really flexible and can be made in about 30 minutes, so don’t be intimidated by the long ingredient list. I used mirin to add some sweetness – don’t have it? Add a teaspoon or so of honey or sugar. Don’t have Shaoxing wine? Just add another tablespoon of soy sauce. The critical components are the ginger, garlic and soy. Everything else is simply extra tastiness.

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Serves about 6
1 1b ground chicken breast
2 ounces diced shiitake mushrooms
2 ounces diced cremini mushrooms
1 large carrot, shredded
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 inch chunk of ginger (minced or juiced)
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs Shaoxing wine
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp mirin
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 bunch green onions, green parts cut into small sections (reserve white parts for another use)
freshly ground black pepper (about 1/2 tsp or to taste)

1 head bibb lettuce (or other green leaf lettuce)
1/3 cup cashews (toasted in a 400F oven for about 8 minutes)
asian mustard
Thai chili sauce

Combine all the ingredients above the line in a large bowl and mix well. Heat a skillet over medium high heat and then add 1 Tbs olive oil and swirl to coat pan. Add the chicken mixture and cook while breaking up larger pieces of chicken mixture to ensure that everything stays in small pieces. Cook until chicken is throughly cooked, about 10 minutes.

Scrape the cooked chicken into a serving bowl and set in the center of the table. Give everyone about 3-4 lettuce leaves and set the mustard, chili sauce and cashews in separate bowls at the table. Allow everyone to put a few tablespoons of filling onto their own lettuce and then top with some cashews and either of the sauces. Roll up the lettuce and enjoy!