Monday, September 6, 2010

Asian Style Vegetable Lettuce Wraps

Back in college, my roommate and I took a roadtrip to the luxury mall Somerset. After our taxing shopping trip, we decided to grab dinner at one of the mall restaurants, P.F. Changs. Our waiter recommended that we try the chicken lettuce wraps. He assured us that it was very popular and so we agreed despite the then-foreign-combination of cold lettuce and chicken. One hour later, I was sold on the delicious combination of hot stir-fry wrapped in a crisp cool lettuce leaf. It was perfection defined.

This past week, my little sister came to New York and I decided to cook her dinner. What better thing to make for her, than those chicken lettuce wraps! I decided to make my meal vegetarian, but you can substitute chicken or pork or tofu crumbles with the same results. Also, I made it with a plum sauce for dipping, but this didn't go over too well. I think a better compliment would be some sort of vinegar or soy-sauce based sauce. I've include a few links to dipping sauces to check out. Also, you can just add plain soy sauce as well.

Asian Style Vegetable Lettuce Wraps

1 cup frozen stir-fry vegetables (mine had carrots, broccoli, sugar snap peas, mini corn, mushrooms, and water chestnuts)
1/2 cup chopped bambo
3/4 cup chopped raw cashews
1/4 cup water chestnuts
1 tsp ginger, diced
1/2 tsp of ginger
8 leaves of lettuce - you can use the traditional head lettuce, or any other large leaf type you like. I used bibb lettuce when I made it.

Sauce ingredients:

1.5 tbsp Hoisin sauce
1.5 tbsp soy sauce
1.5 tbsp dry sherry (I substituited champagne vinegar)
3 tbsp water
1.5 tsp sesame oil
1.5 tsp sugar
3 tsp cornstarch

To begin, mix all sauce ingredients together and set to the side.

Heat up frozen stir fry vegetables in a non-stick pan until mostly unfrozen. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

If you can't find chopped cashew nuts, then buy whole nuts and chop them by placing in a plastic bag and pounding them with a pan until crushed. Add the cashews to a pan with 1/2 tsp seasame oil and toast the nuts. They should turn a little brown, and some of the smaller crumbs will turn an even darker color. Watch these and stir frequently. Once the nuts are done, turn off the heat on the stove but leave in the pan.

Take the now cool stir-fry vegetables and chop them up finely. Then turn the heat back on for the cashews, and add the vegetables, bamboo shoots, ginger, and water chestnuts. Stir-fry until all ingredients are warm.

Then add the sauce, and serve with fresh washed lettuce. Makes about six wraps.

For dipping sauces, try these recipes:

Ginger & Lime dipping sauce
Basic Spring Roll Dipping Sauce
Soy Sesame Dipping Sauce
Vietnamese Spring Rolls Dipping Sauce

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