Monday, February 23, 2015

February 23, 2015: Happy CNY Chicken Lettuce Cups

Happy Chinese New Year (CNY)!

Actually, the new year started February 19th, but celebrations usually last a couple weeks.
From what I do remember, the first few days are celebrated with immediate family.  Afterwards, the extended family is invited over for dinner so family ties can be renewed.

Symbolic foods are important to bring good luck and prosperity for the up and coming year.

Today's dish is chicken lettuce cups made with some good luck ingredients.

Bamboo shoots for a fresh start for the new year
Carrots for good luck
Lettuce brings prosperity
Mushrooms give longevity and opportunity
Water chestnuts creates unity

A traditional lettuce cup would be made with dried oysters (symbolic of good fortune)
See my previous post:

This chicken version is easier to make and the ingredient can be easily found at most local supermarket.
I used chicken thighs but a chicken breast is a good alternative.  Chicken breast are easier to clean too. 

Chicken Lettuce Cups

 4 Chicken Thighs (about 1.25 lbs) - deboned, cut into 1/4" cubes (approximately)
1 T Soy Sauce
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1.5 t Cornstarch

1) Mix chicken, soy sauce, garlic and cornstarch together and let marinade for about 30 minutes.

Veggies (The Good Luck Ingredients)
1 - 8 oz can of water chestnuts, chopped about 1/4" dice
1 - 8 oz can of bamboo shoots, cut into 1/4" pieces
5 Dried Shiitake, rehydrate in warm water for 15 minutes, cut into small pieces
1 C Fresh Mushroom, cut into 1/2" pieces
1/4 C Carrots, 1/4" dice
3 Green Onions, chopped into 1/4" dice
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 T Oil for cooking

Stir Fry Sauce - Mix the following ingredients in a bowl for later.
2 T Oyster Sauce
2 T Hoisin Sauce
2 T Sherry or Rice Wine
1 T Soy Sauce
2 t Toasted Sesame Oil
1.5 t Cornstarch
1 t  Sugar

This recipes uses a two-step approach where the chicken is cooked for a few minutes and saved in a bowl.  The veggies are cooked next for a few minutes and the chicken is added back in to finish the cooking process.

1) Heat a pan on medium-high with 1 T.  When the pan is hot, add the chicken and cook about 3 to 4 minutes.  This gets the chicken cooked about 80%. Pour the chicken onto a separate bowl.

First, partially cooking the chicken.

2) Add the other T of oil to the pan.  When hot, add the fresh veggies - carrots, mushrooms and garlic.  Stir fry for about 3 minutes.

Cooking the fresh veggies first.

3) Add the bamboo shoots and water chestnuts and allow to cook for about a minute

4) Add the chicken (and the juices) back into the pan with the veggies.

5) Cover and let steam for about 3 minutes (to finish cooking the chicken).

6) Add the green onions and the stir fry sauce.  Cook another minute or two.

7) Serve with lettuce cups.  Fill lettuce like you would a taco.

Optional: Add extra Hoisin sauce to the lettuce cup or some Sriracha sauce.  Also, can garnish with fresh minced green onions or a few sprigs of cilantro. Can be served with white rice too.

The finished lettuce cups (aka lettuce tacos).

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