There is nothing I love more than good Chinese food. Maybe my Jewish roots make me crave Chinese food, or it’s something I associate with my childhood. (Let’s just say we ate Chinese food often.) I remember a few years before I was diagnosed with Celiac disease going to Chinatown in New York and having some of the best Chinese food I’ve ever had.
Now, as a gluten-free gal, Chinese food is hit or miss. I can’t eat many of my favorite dishes because many of them are deep fried in shared oil. That means sesame chicken, sweet and sour chicken, and other deep fried delights are off limits. Many Chinese restaurants have adapted some of their “stir fry” recipes to the gluten-free crowd, many have not and cross contamination is still going on with shared woks, utensils and cooking oils. I’ve been to some Chinese restaurants and the only safe thing for me to eat is the steamed bamboo basket… a royal disappointment when you’re used to eating delicious Chinese food your whole life!
As I began to teach myself to cook, I learned that I could easily make chicken lettuce wraps at home. I experimented with many recipes, finally settling in on this one I’ve created on my own based on trial and error. My family seems to really enjoy it and I switch it up by using different vegetables. I’ve used frozen peas and carrots for a quicker version of this meal (or when I didn’t have any fresh vegetables on hand). I’ve also used water chestnuts and chopped broccoli.
Also, I used to just make the recipe with chicken breasts, but after experimenting with a mixture of breast (white) and thigh (dark) meat together, I think I’ve found the perfect savory concoction. You can of course make it with just breast meat or just thigh meat, but the mixture of both gives it a nice flair and will net you the most compliments too!
I also encourage you to season this how you like. Some people want it more spicy, while others like it more sweet. Experiment by adding sweetness through chili garlic sauce and sweet onions, or more spices with red pepper flakes and garlic.
The most tricky part of this entire recipe is getting the chicken texture right. I recommend using a food processor to chop up the chicken. Just pulse the chicken for 7-10 pulses, careful not to grind the chicken to a pulp. Think small pieces, but not ground, just like you’d enjoy it at your favorite Chinese restaurant. Stick your food processor parts in the dishwasher for easy and sanitary clean up.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does. It’s definitely one that is in heavy rotation around here – I was shocked to see I hadn’t yet posted it on my blog because we make it so much. Enjoy!