These tangy Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps are really easy to make and result in an excellent packable lunch or a quick and easy dinner!
Imagine, it's 11:30am, you're sitting at your desk, your stomach is growling and you're contemplating going to your "favorite" salad place for lunch. But as much as you know salad is good for you, your getting really tired of the same old thing every day. This happens to me all the time - I'm lucky because at my office we have lunch brought every day, but our salad bar is basically the same thing day after day, week after week. Wouldn't you just love a better alternative that's still healthy, and extremely tasty too?!
Enter these tangy Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps - the easy alternative to a salad that makes such a great lunchtime staple. They are quick and easy to make, and transport well, so make a perfect packable lunch. They are also a great option for a quick weeknight meal, and are one of my post-workout dinner staples as well!
Just a couple of tips for packing them before I get to the yummy part! I pack the chicken separate from the carrots, cilantro and cabbage - makes it easy to reheat the chicken. I also keep the lettuce leaves and the peanuts separate. Some type of a bento-style lunch box works well for this - I actually like them for packing all kinds of lunches. This ensures a nice crisp lettuce wrap when you are ready to eat!
So back to the good stuff! These are somewhat inspired by PF Chang's lettuce wraps, but the taste is so different I couldn't really call them a copycat recipe. I start with a mix of white and dark ground turkey for extra flavor, and to keep the mixture from getting dry. I actually recommend doing this mix anytime you are using ground chicken.
Next, I created my own version of a Hoisin-like sauce. Bottled Hoisin has a lot of salt in it and since it's not something most people just happen to have on hand I created the sauce using fairly common ingredients that can easily be used in other dishes if you don't already have them at home. And the best part is the sauce is super easy to make - basically just toss all the ingredients in after the chicken has cooked and continue cooking for a bit until it all melds together!
A quick note about Tamari. I personally prefer Tamari over soy sauce. It has a little bit richer flavor and is typically wheat-free or nearly wheat-free. I think it makes Asian dishes a little more interesting, and since it's become much more popular in recent years, you can find it in most grocery stores. If you prefer, you can substitute soy sauce.
Once the chicken is ready simply add some to a lettuce leaf and top with the other ingredients. Wrap the leaf around the chicken and dig in....you've got the ultimate healthy lunch!
things you may want for this recipe
Julienne Peeler – You can certainly julienne veggies by hand, however, since I make a lot of salads this is one kitchen gadget that I find handy to have around. It makes the process of creating fine veggies strands quick and easy.
Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 pound ground chicken, you can use a combination of breast and thigh meat
- ¾ cup chopped yellow onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon Tamari
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon sambal
- 1 ½ teaspoons white miso paste
- ¾ teaspoon dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup water chestnuts, minced
- 2 tablespoons minced green onion
- 8 butter lettuce leaves
- ½ cup julienned carrots
- ⅓ cup shredded napa cabbage
- ¼ cup roasted peanuts
- chopped cilantro for garnish
- Heat 1 teaspoon of sesame oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until browned and crumbly, about 5 minutes. Add onion and garlic; sauteé for an additional minute or two.
- Add tamari, ginger, vinegar, sambal, peanut butter, miso, sugar and ground pepper. Stir until well mixed. Cook for 10 minutes until sauce thickens and is mostly absorbed. Add water chestnuts and green onions to the mixture and stir to incorporate. Turn heat to low to keep chicken warm while finishing the prep.
- To serve the lettuce wraps, place a leaf of lettuce on a plate or serving tray. Add chicken mixture. Top with carrots, cabbage and peanuts. Garnish with cilantro if desired. Repeat with remaining lettuce leaves. Serve immediately.