Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lovely Lettuce

Have I mentioned how beautiful the lettuce has been so far this year? I needed, just NEEDED, to make some gorgeous buttercrunch we received the star of dinner, so I played with the traditional lettuce wrap recipe, and created this:

Farm Inspired Asian Lettuce Wraps
1 head good quality lettuce (any variety with big strong leaves will work. I used buttercrunch here. Don't use iceberg - just don't - you shouldn't even have it in your house) carefully cleaned, with leaves separated.*
1-2 tbsp canola oil
1 lb ground chicken**, skinned and boned (but really, any ground meat will do. You could also use tofu, just the veggies, adding a full pound or so of mushrooms )
1-3 cloves garlic, finely minced (however much you like)
2-3 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 fresh carrots, peeled and then grated
2 - 3 green onions, diced (white and green parts)
4 medium mushrooms (I used shitake, but use what you have)
1 5 oz can water chestnuts, drained and chopped

In a medium sized bowl, combine the ground meat, the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil, and
mix to combine. Let rest so the flavors can combine while you clean and grate carrots and dice the onions, mushrooms and water chestnuts.

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat and add the canola oil. Brown the ground meat mixture (approx 7 - 10 minutes). Add the carrots, onions, mushrooms and water chestnuts and cook until all the ingredients are warmed through.

Spoon the mixture into clean, dry lettuce leaves and top with sauce, recipe below.

Sauce for Lettuce Wraps:
1/2 teaspoon cornstartch
1 1/2 teaspoon water
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp agave syrup or honey
2 cloves finely minced garlic
1 tbsp peeled, finely grated ginger
Stil together the cornstarch and water and reserve
Combine rice vinegar, rice wine and soy sauce in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Stir in the cornstartch mixture, sesame oil and sweetner. Cook over low hear just until this starts to simmer. Add the garlic and the ginger and simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to warm or room temp before using. (You don't want to wilt your lettuce....)

*The best way to clean fresh lettuce for this or any recipe is to separate the leaves and place them in a very clean sink or tub filled with water, and rinse them carefully by gently swishing them around. Then, you can either lay them out to dry on a towel, or take them for a spin in a salad spinner.

**When I make this at home, I "grind" my own chicken from boneless skinless thigh meat. I usually have some organic thighs in the freezer - I defrost them about 80% of the way, and then toss them in the food processor with the garlic, the ginger, the soy sauce, the vinegar and the sesame oil, and pulse until the meat is a coarse grind.

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