Cooking in the shower – Lettuce Wraps

Even when I wasn’t attempting to diet here in Japan, I made these lettuce wraps for dinner. They are light, delicious, fast, and only need one pot to make! This recipe is an amalgamation of different online sources I found when I Googled “P.F. Chang lettuce wraps.” If you haven’t tried these at P.F. Chang’s, definitely do, but I think you will be pleased with the outcome if you try these at home. Plus they won’t break your budget like P.F. Chang’s will… IMG_0962

What you’ll need:

lettuce leaves: You want something big enough to hold but pliable enough to fold, if that makes sense. Stay away from super-crisp lettuce like iceberg that won’t wrap. Just stay away from iceberg in general… Butter leaf will work, or romaine, whatever is your favorite. Even cabbage is great for this, I prefer the Chinese Nappa. If it’s your main dish, have at least four large wraps per person, six if they are smaller.IMG_0963

1 pound ground chicken: or turkey, or pork. I don’t think ground beef would mix well with the rest of the ingredients. If you want to go vegetarian, use tofu or other preferred meat substitute. I sometimes add tofu to these wraps to make them a little more hearty. If you have a chicken breast that’s lying around, you can cut into small pieces and use that instead of ground meat. One pound will serve four if you have complimentary dishes, otherwise two people can make this their whole meal.

white or yellow onion finely chopped: some recipes say to go with a whole onion, I’m usually happy with half. Use however much you prefer.IMG_1291

2 cloves chopped garlic

1 ½ tbsp ginger, peeled and minced

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

hot sauce of choice: you can go with Tabasco if you like it mild, sambal oelek for an extra bit of garlic, Sriracha for heat, cayenne pepper, chili oil, whatever floats your boat. Or use real chilies (which I don’t have access to in Japan) like serranos, jalapeno, etc. How much to add is also up to you, I do at least 1 tbsp of sambal oelek.

hoisin sauce: I have come to adore this stuff, which I never used extensively before coming to Japan. It just makes light meat like chicken and pork sing! Start with a couple tablespoons and taste to see if it needs more. It really gives the meat a nice color as well when it’s all mixed in

handful of chopped green onions

sesame oil

Heat a non-stick skillet to med-high and add your chicken, breaking up the meat to cook evenly. IMG_0967When chicken begins to look opaque and cooked through, add the white onion. Saute together for a couple minutes to soften the onion. IMG_0969Add the garlic and ginger, mixing to combine. IMG_0970After thirty seconds, add the soy sauce, vinegar, hot sauce, and hoisin as necessary. Lastly, add your green onions and a drizzle of sesame oil for a little extra flavor. IMG_0971

Prep and cook time place this recipe around 15 to 20 minutes. There are also lots of ways to vary this dish if you want to try it again differently, or use up random veggies you have lying around. I add tofu, but sauted mushrooms would be good for umami as well. If you want some extra crunch, try any of these:

water chestnuts  IMG_0974


bean sprouts


bell peppers




IMG_0965These wraps come with dipping sauce at P.F. Chang’s, and although they taste great on their own, feel free to add any side sauce you enjoy. I usually serve alongside a bottle of sweet chili sauce, but I’m sure a savory peanut sauce, hot Asian mustard or a creamy cilantro dressing would be good too. This is another great “foundation” recipe that can be tweaked in so many delicious ways. IMG_0973

You can even ditch the “wrap” altogether and add some chopped cabbage to the pot (or kimchi if you’re like me) and serve over rice for a whole meal. This is good for larger groups, as you can pre-cook everything up until the hoisin and green onions and store in the fridge. When you’re ready, warm it up and finish it in the skillet. It would probably even be tasty as cold leftovers, I haven’t tried it yet since there are never any leftovers at my house! I don’t even have a picture of actual said lettuce wrap because I ate it too fast, so send me yours after you make this!


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