Spicy Asian Lettuce Wraps

by Cate on November 16, 2009

Spicy Asian Chicken Lettuce Cups

This weekend was such a whirlwind of events … company for dinner Friday night, company for dinner Saturday night, Sadie’s baptism yesterday, and a myriad of errands and adventures with the kids, it felt good to crash last night.  When we got home last night, it was already dark out and it had been a long, but good, family-filled day.  I started my day at 6 am, which, quite frankly, is way too early to be up on a Sunday.

As we walked in the door after getting home from the baptism, Nick asked if it was way past their bedtime.  It was 6:30 pm.  Daylight savings has been kicking their hides.  Between the day full of activity and it being dark out so early, even two weeks past when the clocks went back, we’re still a little out of whack.  They were in bed by 7.  I kid you not.

On Saturday night, The Neighbors came over.  The kids had been conspiring for a playdate for the past week or two.  Planets schedules aligned and Saturday night it was.   It’s funny to watch them play.  Nick and The Girlfriend act like an old married couple, bickering and terribly cross one minute and thick as thieves the next.  Poor Madeline.  She wants so badly to play with them, but, of course, they want to play on their own.  It reminds me of when my sister was born.  She is eight years younger than me and back then, I wanted to play with my friends too.  Without her.  I hope I was nice about it.  Looking back on it, it’s possible I wasn’t, but at that age, I didn’t know any better.  Nick and The Girlfriend do take time and play for a few minutes with Madeline in between activity changes, and she tries so desperately to keep up, climbing the steps after them shouting “Me!  Me!”  Adorable.

I currently don’t have a dining room.  Well, technically I do, but a little bit of construction elsewhere in the house has made the dining room a convenient spot to put everything else that has been relocated.  So without a dining room table, our dinner that night was going to be on the coffee table.  Oh how I love my coffee table.  Some day I’ll take a picture of it for you.  I bought it some five or so years ago, and it opens up (as you would open a book to lay it flat) to make a giant space that is perfect for relocated dinners.  Truth be told, I don’t mind sitting on the floor and bellying up to the coffee table, but these days, it’s a little harder to get up after sitting on the floor.  Them bones, them bones…

When planning what to make for dinner, I wanted to keep it easy given the seating arrangements.  I have been craving Spicy Asian Lettuce Wraps for a few weeks now, and knowing The Neighbor Husband loves them as much as I do, it was an easy choice for dinner.  I think it might be one of my favorite chicken recipes from the folks at Cooking Light magazine thus far.  From a 2005 issue, it takes seriously five minutes to make, and since you’re starting with a rotisserie chicken, it’s crazy simple and cheap inexpensive to boot.  I happen to be partial to Costco’s rotisserie chickens (one of the best bargains going for $4.99), and since they sell the butter lettuce called for in the recipe as well, it’s nearly one-stop shopping.  The rest of the ingredients come right from the door of my refrigerator, so it’s under $10 for the whole shebang.

Although the recipe might have been more originally intended for Spring and Summer eating, I’m not one of those stews-in-winter, salads-in-the-summer type girls.  No rules.  It’s got such a nice salty kick from the soy and the chili garlic sauce, and the cool, crisp crunch of the lettuce, you can’t just relegate it to one or two seasons a year.  Up until this weekend, The Neighbor Wife has never been a big fan of this one, but now she’s a new convert.  It just goes to show you, sometimes you have to try something more than once … or twice … tastes change.  You may surprise yourself.  You know, like brussels sprouts.

I didn’t realize until now, when I just went to go look up the recipe for the wraps, that the last time I made this was to celebrate my 9th wedding anniversary.  That seems like a lifetime ago now.  At first, I thought learning that made me a touch sad, but upon further reflection, I think wistful might be a more appropriate word.  Perhaps it was just time to associate a new memory with a favorite recipe.

The kids still won’t go near this one … yet … but that’s ok.  It means the grown-ups didn’t have to share.

Spicy Asian Lettuce Wraps
Recipe courtesy of Cooking Light, March 2005

2-1/2 oz bean threads (cellophane noodles)
1/4 cup cilantro
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon chili garlic paste
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
2 cups, chopped roasted skinless, boneless chicken
12 large Boston lettuce leaves

Cover bean threads with boiling water. Let stand for 5 minutes, until softened. Drain and rinse under cold water. Combine cilantro,soy sauce, chili paste and oil, stirring with a whisk. Add noodles and chicken and toss well to coat. Spoon 1/3 cup down center of each lettuce leaf. Roll up.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Casey November 17, 2009 at 12:26 am

I like that…..a new memory with a favorite recipe……looks like you’re on your way to making this happen!


Joanne November 17, 2009 at 7:18 am

Yes I believe the thing to do is definitely make new memories with your food. There is always room for more happy associations.

It sounds like you guys had an excellent weekend! The wraps sound incredibly tasty. I really like how few ingredients they are. Plus they are finger food – bonus.


Ramona November 17, 2009 at 9:43 am

We had a hectic weekend too. And we’ve been getting to bed an hour or 2 earlier most nights since the time change.

Your lettuce wraps look good.


Barbara November 17, 2009 at 10:00 am

Every time I see lettuce wraps on a menu, I get them. I don’t know why I haven’t made these at home. Am going to try with your excellent recipe!
Luckily (or not depending on your point of view) I had my kids a year apart so they played together or with mutual friends.
Not so with my sister and brother and I. We are all each 7 years apart. It got complicated. My brother was the youngest so we kind of ignored him. (not so nice of me- but think of my sister who was 14 years older!)
Ah well. We grew up to be good friends and that’s all that counts. My kids are good friends with each other too.


mandy November 17, 2009 at 11:05 am

This is such a light, quick dish to make its perfect with all the holiday food events coming up right around the corner.


Debbie November 17, 2009 at 2:01 pm

The wraps sound delicious. I like coffee table dining…it’s fun. A nice change from the same old routine!


Claire November 17, 2009 at 9:36 pm

Oooo, ooo, oooo! This sound SOOOO good! I’m going to do this the next time I have friends over to eat. AWESOME!


Cate November 23, 2009 at 1:40 pm

Claire – it’s perfect for entertaining friends because it comes together so quickly.

Debbie – I’m all for changing things up a bit. :)

Mandy – Exactly!

Barbara – yeah, I think it all gets better when we’re older, but those years leading up to it… :)

Ramona – never really noticed changes in routine with the time change in prior years, but for some reason, this time it has me going to be earlier too. Probably a good fall-out from it.

Joanne – love finger food. and new happy associations. :)

Casey – I’m trying!


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