I heart Chinese food. Okay, to be honest, I heart LOTS of food but if I had to name the food genre that I tend to “crave” the most often, it would be Chinese food. Some of my favorite Chinese dishes include Hunan Chicken, Szechuan Chicken, Kung Pao Chicken…yep, pretty much anything with chicken that’s really spicy. I love spicy! I mourn the day that I will become old and heartburn will set in and antacids just won’t do the trick anymore……that day will just stink.
Considering that I love it so much, I have to oddly admit that Chinese is the type of food that I’m least likely to make at home. You know why I think it is? Because no matter how hard I try, I can NEVER make it quite as good and therefore never quite satisfy that craving and it frustrates the bojangles out of me………..until now….
Which brings me to PF Changs restaurant. I love their asian lettuce wraps. Quite honestly, they are to die for. So, what is a cook fanatic like me to do but scour the web for copycat recipes. Last year I tested so many of them until I found the “almost” perfect one! This recipe is sooo yummy good and for once, a Chinese dish that I made at home finally hit the spot and satisfied that endless craving.
Alright, this is completely random but it’s almost Christmas and I’m talking about Chinese food and I can’t help but think of that scene from the movie Christmas Story…you know, the one where they go to a Chinese restaurant for Christmas dinner:
Fa ra ra ra. Oh, ha ha ha. Darn, I love YouTube!
I will get back on subject now. Yes, asian lettuce wraps. Here is the best wanna be recipe for PF Changs’ Asian Lettuce Wraps. I swear you can not get any closer to the real thing than this.
RECIPE: Asian Lettuce Wraps
16 lettuce leaves (washed and taken off the head and left whole; note: I prefer bib lettuce with this recipe)
2 lb. ground chicken (or replace with tofu for a vegetarian dish)
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 teaspooon asian chili pepper sauce
1 teaspoon minced or ground ginger
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
8 ounces water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1. Heat large skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and then add chicken. Brown the chicken 7-10 minutes until done and remove from skillet and set aside.
2. In the same large skillet over medium heat, cook the onions and garlic in 1 tablespoon of oil until the onions are translucent.
3. In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, asian chile pepper sauce, ginger, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Add this to the skillet with the onions and garlic. Stir in the chopped water chestnuts and green onions. Cook until the green onions are tender.
4. Once the green onions are tender, add the ground chicken back in the skillet and stir well. Cook until heated through.
5. Scoop the chicken filling into a lettuce leaf, top with special sauce (see recipe below), wrap up like a burrito, and eat!
RECIPE: Special Sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon hot mustard
2 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon chili paste
1. Dissolve 1/4 cup sugar in 1/2 cup warm water. Then whisk in the soy sauce, ketchup, lemon juice, sesame oil, hot mustard, 2 teaspoons water, and chili paste. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Oh, man, the combination of the warm, spicy filling with the cool, crisp lettuce…it’s like heaven in your mouth.