Ok, so I know this is another Asian food recipe, but I really need help in this area. Asian food always presents a far more difficult puzzle to me than does any other style of food that I have experimented with. When I taste something with those influences, I taste only the final result, none of the comprising flavors. When I came upon this recipe, in a food magazine, I wanted to try it. It is a recipe for PF Chang's chicken lettuce wraps. It's really good. Soon on the horizon, I will offer you Chili's Honey Chipotle Sauce (my husband's faaaavorite), but for now, more Chinese.
Back to the lettuce wraps. The first time I made the recipe, I followed the directions as closely as possible. You saute some cellophane noodles in peanut oil, to throw into the wraps, and I definitely would do it if I was making a meal for friends, but on a family night I would just skip the noodles. They are a little fickle, time consuming, and don't come apart very easily.
So, second time around, skipped the noodles. And the lettuce. I also skipped the 1-hour marinade and just drizzled a little teriyaki on and added cornstarch, salt and pepper about ten minutes before stir frying. I skipped the mushrooms (didn't have 'em) and the water chestnuts (I don't really like them) I put the whole thing on top of rice and used beef instead of chicken. It was still a hit. As a matter of fact, my husband, who absolutely does not eat leftovers, heated up the leftovers for himself the next day! Its a bit spicy, but I don't de-seed the jalapeno. My hubby likes spicy stuff. I also threw in a sliced summer squash and a sliced zucchini during the last two minutes of the stir fry and it was really good! I cut them into 1/2-inch thick half-moons.
I'm going to include the original directions for you, and you can make my changes if you want. Be sure the chicken or beef is pretty finely cut up, or it can be a bit tough with this high heat.
Sorry for the lack of photos, my camera had a four-year-old happen to it.
P.F. Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps
FOR THE CHICKEN
1 large egg white
1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, diced
FOR THE STIR-FRY SAUCE
2 tablespoons oyster sauce (I only found oyster flavored sauce)
1 tablespoon hoisen sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoons cornstarch
FOR THE NOODLES
2 bundles cellophane noodles (only called bean thread noodles at my grocery store)
Peanut oil, for frying
FOR THE STIR-FRY
4 tablespoons peanut oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon peeled ginger (or minced ginger-found in the refrigerated produce section)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
4 scallions; 2 minced, 2 cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 pound shitake mushrooms, stemmed and diced (I used whatever mushrooms I could find-probably white button)
3/4 cup diced water chestnuts
small lettuce leaves, for serving (butter leaves are nice)
soy sauce, chili paste and/or hot mustard, for serving
1. Prepare the chicken: Whisk the egg white, cornstarch and rice wine vinegar in a bowl. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. In the mean time, prepare all other ingredients. I would recommend reading ahead in the recipe and combining all the items that will be added at the same time. The stir-fry comes together very quickly.
2. Make the stir-fry sauce: Whisk 1/3 cup water, the oyster, hoisin and soy sauces, and the sesame oil in a bowl, then whisk in the cornstarch until dissolved.
3. Fry the noodles: Pull the noodles apart into sections. Heat 3/4 inch peanut oil in a medium saucepan until a deep-fry thermometer registers 380 F. Working in batches, press the noodles into the oil with a spatula until they puff, 5 to 10 seconds. Drain on paper towels. (This is a bit of an acquired skill)
4. Make the stir-fry: Heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons peanut oil to the skillet; when almost smoking, stir in the garlic, ginger, jalapeno and minced scallions, then add 1/2 teaspoon salt and the sugar and stir-fry 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, water chestnuts and scallion pieces and stir-fry 2 minutes. Add the stir-fry sauce and chicken and cook 1 minute.
5. Make a bed of noodles on a platter and top with the chicken mixture. Serve the noodles and stir-fry with lettuce leaves and soy sauce for dipping.
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