It rained recently for the first time in weeks. Naturally, I ran out and bought some comfy corduroy pants and a 10-pound bag of apples. Then, paradoxically, proceeded to make a hot-weather chicken lettuce wrap recipe for dinner.
Although particularly appealing on a scorching-hot day, I think lettuce wraps are a delicious, healthy dinner for any season. You need some freshness to balance the cozy stews of the cooler months. Any leftovers can be wrapped up into flour tortillas for easy lunches the next day.
The chicken is cooked in a sweet-spicy Thai sauce then shredded with two forks. Pile a large serving platter with fresh, crunchy vegetables and whole lettuce leaves. Iceberg lettuce is my favourite for its sturdiness, crunch and flavour, but green leaf or romaine will do the trick. Salty peanuts add another layer of flavour and texture.
Let everyone build their own lettuce wraps at the table, just be sure to pile on the napkins, as it isn’t a super-tidy meal.
Even little kids love this taco-esque, DIY-concept dinner. You’ll watch your toddlers inhale shredded carrot and radish like “whaaaaa?”.
We had quite a heat wave this summer, and it’s truly the first time in my recent life that I’ve really experienced one. We’ve been in air-conditioned apartments for a decade, and now that we’re in a house, hoo boy it gets hot. I think it’s helped me embrace the cooler weather a bit less begrudgingly than in most years. You need the dark to see the light, am I right?
I’m not quite ready to give up my rotation of big salads and grilled dinners but I’ll cling to them with one hand while the other is tossing apples with cinnamon and brown sugar.
Asian Pulled Chicken Lettuce Wraps
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1/2 medium red onion
- 6 large cloves garlic
- 1 large jalapeno pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro stems
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 1/4 cup tamarind pulp
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 250 g rice vermicelli noodles
- 1 cucumber julienned
- 1 large carrot peeled and julienned
- 1/3 cup roasted salted peanuts
- 3 radishes thinly sliced
- 1 large head green leaf or iceberg lettuce I actually prefer iceberg!
- Heat oil over medium heat in a dutch oven large enough to hold the chicken. Cook onion until golden, about 5 minutes, then add garlic, jalapeno, and cilantro and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Stir in fish sauce, tamarind, water, and brown sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, until slightly thickened. Add chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until no longer pink inside, about 12 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add vermicelli and cook about 4 minutes, or according to package instructions, then drain in a colander and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.
- Transfer chicken to a cutting board and use two forks to pull it apart into bite-sized pieces. Return pulled chicken to the sauce and toss to coat, then transfer to a serving bowl.
- Arrange lettuce and toppings on a large platter and allow diners to make their own lettuce wraps.