Hey everyone, I hope you had a wonderful weekend!
There’s little time for chitchatting today because I want to get right to the recipe I’m thinking you’re going to want to make for dinner TONIGHT – Kung Pao Chicken Lettuce Wraps. I can’t even handle how delicious they are!
So, ok, a few weeks ago in Kansas City Ben and I were at this fun little bar/sushi restaurant for happy hour. It was one of our favorite stops the year prior so we decided to go back because, although I couldn’t eat any of the food an account of my Celiac Disease, their drink specials were da bomb. Plus they had soccer on TV for Ben. (Can we talk about how glad I am the World Cup’s over?! Yes, I went there.)
Anyway, it was harder than I thought to watch tray after tray of delicious-looking sushi pass us by, and I’ve been craving Asian-style dishes ever since, so I set out to recreate one of my favorites last week – Kung Pao Chicken.
Now, the day before that Ben came home from work and declared he was going to be eating low-carb for the foreseeable future, which went down the drain the following afternoon when he had two baked potatoes that he ate like apples for lunch. Prior to learning that fact though I came up with these lower-carb Kung Pao Chicken Lettuce Wraps that ended up so over the top delicious that I made them two nights in a row.
They’re my favorite take out fake out dish to date and taste like they came straight from a restaurant!
Chopped chicken and fresh vegetables are quickly stir fried then simmered in a killer Kung Pao sauce which boasts that signature sweet heat. The mixture is piled onto fresh lettuce leaves, versus a big pile of rice, then sprinkled with chopped peanuts. UNBELIEVABLE. They’ve got the perfect amount of heat, the perfect amount of sweet, and the chopped peanuts gives the dish such a satisfying crunch.
On top of all that they’re really easy to make. Ben and I actually tag teamed cooking them the second night. I was in the middle of stir frying the chicken when we heard the tell-tale chirp of a smoke detector with a low battery. For the love. Why do those things always go off at night?
Anyway, we took turns standing below the spot where we thought the offending detector was, because they only beep once a minute you know, shuffling all over the house just staring at the ceiling.
Oh, I think I know where it is! I called from the kitchen, so Ben came down from his post upstairs to stir fry the veggies. Oh, nope, it’s not there. Then I’d take back over 2 minutes later. We ended up ripping 6 smoke detectors off the ceiling before realizing it was the battery in the carbon monoxide detector that’s located in the basement. Ay yi yi. (And yes, they’ve all been put back up.)
Point being, you can’t screw this dish up. It pretty much took 3/4 of a person to whip up these yummy Kung Pao Chicken Lettuce Wraps, which you will wholeheartedly adore!
Start by making the Kung Pao sauce which calls for a few of my favorite, far-east sauce ingredients I always keep in the house: mirin, a sweet cooking wine (if you can’t find it sub in Riesling wine,) chili garlic sauce, there should be several brands at the store to choose from, and rice vinegar, which is also a common grocery store find. You’ll be able to locate all these ingredients grouped together in the Asian-foods section of your grocery store.
Combine the aforementioned ingredients with gluten-free tamari or soy sauce (dish will not be GF if using soy sauce,) and a wee bit of both sesame oil and brown sugar. In a separate bowl, stir 1/4 cup water into 1 Tablespoon corn starch, then pour into the tamari mixture and stir to combine. Sauce = done!
Next chop up 1lb chicken. I chopped mine really small to get the real restaurant experience, plus it’s easier to pile high onto lettuce leaves that way.
Add the chicken to a big bowl then stir in 1 Tablespoon gluten-free tamari or soy sauce and 1 Tablespoon corn starch and then mix until every piece of chicken is coated.
Time to get cookin’! Heat 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil in a large, nonstick wok or skillet over medium-high heat then add the chicken and stir fry until cooked through, and then remove to a plate.
Next, stir fry the veggie portion of the program which includes 1/2 an 8oz can sliced water chestnuts that have been chopped, 1 small chopped zucchini, and 2 chopped green onions.
Heat an additional Tablespoon vegetable oil in the wok then add all the veggies and stir fry until crisp tender. Add 1 clove minced garlic then stir fry for 30 more seconds.
Finally, add the chicken back into the wok with the sauce then let the whole thing bubble until thickened, about 2 minutes.
Let the Kung Pao chicken mixture cool for a few minutes then pile into lettuce leaves and top with chopped peanuts. I used butter lettuce cups for these wraps, but we also loved them with plain ol’ iceberg lettuce leaves. Whatever you decide, open wide!
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Kung Pao Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Kung Pao Chicken Lettuce Wraps taste like they came straight out of a restaurant. My favorite take out fake out dish to date!
- 1lb chicken breasts, chopped very small
- 3 Tablespoons soy sauce or gluten-free tamari, divided
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch, divided
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 Tablespoons mirin, or sweet wine like Riesling
- 1/2 - 1 Tablespoon chili garlic sauce (depending on how spicy you want it)
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 1 small zucchini, chopped
- 1/2-8oz can sliced water chestnuts, chopped
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 head lettuce like butter, boston bibb, iceberg, or baby romaine, leaves separated
- 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
- Add chicken, 1 Tablespoon soy sauce or gluten-free tamari, and 1 Tablespoon cornstarch in a bowl then mix to combine.
- Add remaining 2 Tablespoons soy sauce or gluten-free tamari, mirin, chili garlic sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, and sesame oil in a bowl then stir to combine. In a separate bowl, stir water into remaining Tablespoon cornstarch then stir into soy sauce mixture. Set sauce aside.
- Preheat 1 Tablespoon oil in a large, nonstick wok or skillet over medium-high heat then add chicken and stir fry until cooked through. Remove to a plate then set aside.
- Heat remaining Tablespoon oil in wok then add zucchini, water chestnuts, and green onions. Stir fry until zucchini is crisp-tender, then add garlic and stir fry for 30 more seconds. Add chicken back into wok then pour in sauce. Simmer until sauce is slightly reduced then let cool slightly before serving over lettuce and topping with chopped peanuts.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.
I cannot stress to you how mouthwatering these wraps are – make them ASAP!