816 Diversions

Wrap your tastebuds in this crunchy, tasty treat

Chicken Lettuce Wraps offer the satisfying crunch of celery and water chestnuts along with a tasty sauce.
Chicken Lettuce Wraps offer the satisfying crunch of celery and water chestnuts along with a tasty sauce. The Kansas City Star

Google “lettuce wraps” and you’ll trip over scores of copycat recipes for P.F. Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wrap.

Once found mostly in Asian restaurants, the lettuce wrap began turning up in mainstream restaurants like the Cheesecake Factory and Chili’s a few years ago, and it wasn’t long before home cooks were eager to integrate the fun food into their own menus.

Whether you’re eating in or out, The Star’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps are a smart nutrition choice. Bite-sized cubes of lean meat are stir-fried in a flavorful sauce and wrapped in a cool, crisp and crunchy vegetable shell.

Dieters have long known that celery and water chestnuts not only enhance the texture of a stir-fry, but also are low in calories and sodium and contain no fat or cholesterol.

Meanwhile, mushrooms contain potassium, folate, niacin and copper, which helps the body produce red blood cells and regulate other chemical reactions that are a part of good health.

Studies by the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service show that even when stir-fried, mushrooms retain most of their nutrients.

Cooking tip: Reduce red pepper flakes to 1/8 teaspoon if a milder dish is preferred.

Serving tips: Choose large, pliable lettuce leaves and remove the core if tough. Before serving, separate lettuce and wash in cold water. Drain, place each leaf between paper towels and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until crisp.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Makes 6 to 8 appetizer servings

Cooking sauce:

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

3 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon dry sherry

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Chicken and vegetables:

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

2 teaspoons dry sherry

1 teaspoon light soy sauce

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 cup chopped mushrooms

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 green onion, chopped

6 to 8 large leaves Boston, leaf or iceberg lettuce

For cooking sauce: Blend together hoisin sauce, soy sauce, water, sherry, cornstarch, sesame oil and red pepper flakes. Set aside.

For chicken and vegetables: Combine chicken, sherry, soy sauce, cornstarch and pepper in a bowl; set aside. Be sure the rest of the ingredients are chopped and measured. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until fully cooked. Remove chicken from skillet, drain and set aside.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet and add chopped water chestnuts, celery and mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes. Return chicken to skillet. Stir in ginger and garlic. Stir cooking sauce ingredients again, then pour over chicken and vegetables. Cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until sauce is thickened and chicken and vegetables are evenly coated. Remove from heat. Stir in green onion.

Divide mixture among lettuce leaves and roll each like a burrito.

Per serving, based on 6: 176 calories (34 percent from fat), 6 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), 44 milligrams cholesterol, 9 grams carbohydrates, 19 grams protein, 344 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.

Recipe developed for The Star by home economists Kathryn Moore and Roxanne Wyss.