I am not a big fan of chain restaurants but every now and then I used to indulge myself in the vice of visiting Cheesecake Factory – I loved their Lettuce Wraps and their Pineapple Upside-down cheesecake! The wraps “looked” light and tasted great, so I used them to justify eating the cheesecake. But then I realized that I like the wraps just by themselves and that I didn’t really need the sugar binge. So I experimented with the wrap recipe and finally managed to standardize it. I love these wraps now and I bet if you tried them you would too – they are spicy, crunchy, sweet and sour and very easy to make. My only problem with them is that I can’t stop eating them!
1. 1-1.25 lbs of boneless chicken breast or ground chicken breast meat
2. 3-4 cloves of garlic
3. One inch fresh ginger root piece
4. 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
5. 1.5 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
6. 1 tablespoon of honey
7. 2 teaspoons of Hoisin sauce
8. ½ teaspoon of red chili flakes
9. 2 teaspoons of Chili oil
10. One tablespoon rice vinegar
11. ¼ cup of roasted cashews
12. One can of water chestnuts (8 oz)
13. 3 medium sized carrots
14. 6-7 spring onions
15. One large head of Boston lettuce
1. If you bought the chicken breast, grind it in a food processor to make minced chicken breast. If you bought already ground chicken breast, ignore this step.
2. In a medium sized sauce pan, add the olive oil and heat it on low heat.
3. Peel the garlic cloves and grate them using a microplane.
4. When the pan is hot, add the minced chicken breast and the soy sauce and begin cooking the chicken.
5. Add the grated garlic and the rice vinegar to the pan and keep stirring the chicken frequently to cook it evenly.
6. While the chicken is cooking peel and grate the carrots and peel and thinly slice the ginger root.
7. Wash the spring onions and cut them in small pieces (about ½ inch each).
8. Open the can of water chestnuts and drain them water out of them.
9. When the chicken looks almost cooked, add the Hoisin sauce, honey, Chili oil, chili flakes grated carrots, water chestnuts, ginger, spring onions and the cashew nuts and continue cooking (and stirring) for another 3-4 minutes so that everything is completely cooked and the flavors of the various ingredients get completely fused together. The chicken needs to be cooked well and there should not be much liquid left in the pan
10. Wash the Boston lettuce in cold water and separate the leaves gently.
11. Pat dry all the lettuce leaves with paper towels.
12. Serve the chicken while it is still warm and as stuffing for the lettuce wraps. Just wrap the leaves around the chicken stuffing.
13. This makes a great appetizer for parties or as a first course for a dinner party. They can be a bit messy to eat because one has to hold them together and forks and knives wouldn’t do for this. I usually make these for a healthy lunch for myself!