Sunday, February 14, 2010

Chinese New Year...Minced Chicken with Walnuts in Lettuce Cups

This week we are hitting the trifecta of the food world.  Valentines Day, Mardi Gras and Chinese New Year.  If you publish a food blog, you could easily be a good candidate for a heart attack.  Fortunately Im not celebrating any of them in my house this year, but if I were, I would be sure to have plenty of these on hand.  They are delicious and a good alternative if you are trying to cut back and get ready for the big one, Valentine's Day!

This is my version of a favorite banquet dish that's often served on festive occasions as a symbol of longevity. The crisp, chilled lettuce makes a wonderful contrast to the warm filling, and the sweetness of the hoisin sauce.  If you like Chinese food, I encourage you to try won't be sorry!

4-6 servings

6 fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms (or dried black mushrooms)
3/4 cup walnuts
1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast or duck meat
1 tablespoon oyster-flavored sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 clove garlic
 scallions chopped fine
1 small carrot, finely minced
1 small stalk celery, minced
1 cup diced water chestnuts
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine OR dry sherry
1 teaspoon sesame oil
vegetable oil
Hoisin sauce
Soy Sauce
12 small iceberg lettuce cups


Clean mushrooms, discard stems and chop caps.

Spread walnuts in a pie pan. Toast in preheated 350-degree oven, stirring once or twice, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Let nuts cool, then coarsely chop.

Cut chicken or duck into 1/4-inch pieces. Place in a bowl with oyster-flavored sauce; stir to coat. Let stand 10 minutes.

Place a wok over high heat until hot. Add vegetable oil, swirling to coat sides. Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add chicken or duck and stir-fry 1 minute. Add carrot, celery, scallions and water chestnuts; stir-fry 30 seconds.

Cook until vegetables are tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Add wine and sesame oil; cook until heated through. Add walnuts and toss to coat. Add 1 TB soy sauce and 1 TB hoisin sauce. Toss to coat.

To serve, spread hoisin sauce on a lettuce cup, spoon in some of chicken mixture, in lettuce cup and eat out of hand.

Photo: Serious Eats

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