I just love Asian food. The combination of bold flavors of spicy, salty, sweet, and sour are so satisfying. My favorite go to dinners involve throwing all sorts of veggies, chicken or tofu, and maybe some rice noodles or brown rice into a rich chicken stock; or wrapping them up in some rice paper or a large lettuce leaf. My favorite summer go to potluck item is some delightful summer vegetable and herb spring rolls with a pungent dipping sauce.
These spicy chicken lettuce wraps were inspired by those, and by a need to use up some leftover cooked chicken in my fridge. Aside from chopping some veggies, they are simple and easy to prepare and require no cooking. The only calories I count in these come from the chicken and the soy/vinegar dipping sauce. The calorie count comes in at 43 per roll!!! If the chicken and veggies aren’t enough for you, feel free to slip some cooked rice noodles or rice into your rolls. Enjoy this low calorie, gluten-free, delicious, warm weather dinner!
Start by preparing your chicken. You could use a supermarket rotisserie chicken. Pick the chicken off of the bone and shred, being careful to remove all tendons and fat.
Once you have your chicken prepared, set aside.
Next, prep your veggies. I like to start with some nice fresh greens. Here, I’ve used arugula and baby spinach. Lettuce mixes work well, too. Be sure that your greens are thoroughly washed and dried.
Mix the greens with three cups finely shredded cabbage. My favorite is savoy cabbage, but any kind will do. Just make sure you chop it very finely.
Next, cut some peppers into a matchstick size or julienne. To get a nice small matchstick size, it helps to remove the membrane of the pepper. I like to do this so I don’t have big honking pieces of pepper, but I slice the membrane into matchsticks and add it into my mix, so I don’t waste.
Next peel and cut about 4 small carrots into the same matchstick size. I find these “T” style peelers essential to prepping vegetables. They work way better than the straight kind.
Once your vegetables are cut, set aside.
Herbs are essential to the flavor profile of this dish. Be sure to was your herbs, spin them in a lettuce crisper, and drain on paper towels. I use two parts cilantro to one part basil to one part fresh mint.
Finely chop the herbs. If you gather the herbs into a tight ball or cigar shape, it makes it a lot easier to chop them fine.
Add the herbs to the bowl with the greens and toss well to combine, set aside.
Now you are ready to make the sauce. Start with soy sauce. I like to use a nice tamari because it’s gluten free. Pour 1/4 cup into a bowl.
Pour half a cup of rice wine vinegar into the same bowl with the soy sauce. Be sure to use the kind that is unseasoned.
Finely chop two teaspoons of fresh ginger and add to the bowl.
Finely chop a large garlic clove and add to the bowl.
Lastly, add either 2 tsps hot chili paste or a finely chopped fresh serrano or jalapeno chili, and the juice of one lime to the sauce. Stir to mix well.
Now, gather some fresh, somewhat large lettuce leaves. I recommend Boston lettuce because it is the most tender, but green leaf or romaine will work too. Gather all of the ingredients or mis en plas together.
Isn’t it beautiful? Now you are ready to eat. Have your guests assemble each roll and dip as they go along. It’s a fun and interactive dinner. To assemble each roll, start with a lettuce leaf. Add about 1/2 cup of the greens and herb mixture. Next, add two or three each of the carrot and pepper sticks. Lastly, add about 1/8 cup of the prepared chicken. Roll it up and dip away. Delicious!
Easy, simple, tasty, gluten-free, and only 43 calories/roll = excellent summer dining!
SPICY CHICKEN LETTUCE WRAPS RECIPE
makes 12 wraps
For the wraps:
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, picked and shredded
4 cups fresh greens (lettuce mix, arugula, baby spinach, sprouts, etc.)
3 cups finely shredded cabbage
1 red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
4 small carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 bunch cilantro, washed, dried, and chopped fine
1/2 bunch fresh basil, washed, dried, and chopped fine
1/2 bunch fresh mint, washed, dried, and chopped fine
12 each clean boston, romaine, or green leaf lettuce leaves
For the dipping sauce:
1/4 cup tamari soy sauce
1/2 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar
2 tsps fresh ginger, chopped fine
1 large garlic clove, chopped fine
2 tsps asian chili paste or 1 jalapeno or serrano chili, chopped fine
juice of one lime
1. Place the greens and the shredded cabbage in a large bowl, mix to combine, set aside.
2. Place the matchsticks of red pepper and carrot on a small plate, set aside.
3. Add the chopped herbs to the bowl with the greens and cabbage and toss well to combine, set aside.
4. Make the sauce. Add the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger, garlic, chili paste or chilis, and lime juice to a small bowl and mix to combine.
5. Set out the prepped vegetables, bowl of greens, cabbage and herbs, prepared chicken, and lettuce leaves with the dipping sauce on your dining table.
6. Assemble the wraps as you eat. To assemble: take a lettuce leaf, top with about 1/2 cup of the greens and herbs mixture, about three each of the red pepper and carrot matchsticks, and lastly, about 1/8 cup prepared chicken. Roll up into a big cigar, and dip into the sauce.
Yield: 12 wraps