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Sweet, hot, cool, crisp – this dish has it all
Stir-fried chicken, walnuts and vegetables in lettuce puffs is one of my favorite dishes in a Chinese restaurant. Sweet Hoisin sauce spooned over crisp cool lettuce and then topped with warm chicken and vegetables combines to create a taste and texture sensation.
I often find cooking in a wok at home doesn't produce the same results as when food is prepared in a Chinese restaurant. I asked Martin Yan of "Yan Can Cook" fame for some tips on achieving authentic results at home.
He told me the No. 1 rule: Don't overcrowd the wok. Cook small portions and cut the ingredients into small pieces. Otherwise, the food will steam in the wok.
Hoisin sauce and oyster flavored sauce can be found in most supermarkets.
This is a 20-minute meal. As with most Chinese recipes, there are several ingredients to be prepared, but the actual cooking time is only about four to five minutes.
Wine suggestion: This is pretty rich with the walnuts and Hoisin sauce; try a nice rich California chardonnay.
CHICKEN AND WALNUTS IN LETTUCE PUFFS
3⁄4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon bottled oyster flavored sauce
3 teaspoons sesame oil, divided use
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger or 1⁄2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1⁄4 cup diced carrots
1⁄2 cup diced shiitake mushrooms
1⁄2 cup diced canned water chestnuts
1⁄2 tablespoon Chinese rice vinegar
2 tablespoons walnut pieces
1⁄4 cup Hoisin sauce
8 small iceberg lettuce cups (inner leaves from lettuce that curve into a cup)
Place chicken in a bowl with oyster flavored sauce and let stand 10 minutes. Heat wok over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Add ginger and chicken. Stir-fry for one minute. Add garlic, carrots, mushrooms and water chestnuts. Stir-fry two minutes. Add remaining 2 teaspoons sesame oil and Chinese rice vinegar. Cook to heat through a few seconds. Add walnuts and toss to coat. Remove from heat.
To serve: Spread a spoonful of hoisin sauce on a lettuce cup, spoon in some of the chicken mixture, wrap in lettuce cup and eat. Makes two servings.
RICE WITH SCALLIONS
1 package microwave white rice (1-1⁄2 cups cooked)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 cup sliced scallions
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Microwave rice according to package instructions. Measure 1-1⁄2 cups rice and reserve remaining rice for another time. Add oil, scallions and salt and pepper to taste. Toss well. Makes two servings.
Linda Gassenheimer is the author of 14 cookbooks including her newest, "The Flavors of the Florida Keys" and "Mix 'n Match Meals in Minutes for People with Diabetes." Visit Linda on her Web page at DinnerInMinutes.com or e-mail her at Linda@DinnerInMinutes.com.