It seems every so often the low-carb craze reinvents itself.
My friend Debbie has been following a Ketogenic (keto) diet which drastically limits daily intakes of carbohydrates — especially the simple ones like those found in baked goods, pop and sweet snacks.
She’s been very successful with a focus of eliminating sugar, eating the right fats (good fats like olives and nuts), but not overindulging in them and being mindful of when she’s full.
Seeing her success, I decided I would at least begin to pay attention to carb-overload and foods with lots of refined sugars and empty calories. Good-bye bread and pizza.
Although I am an expert label reader, paying attention to reading every single label was daunting. So I decided to come up with my own recipes with ingredients I typically have on hand.
Today’s recipe is a riff of sorts on a noodle bowl and lettuce wrap. The peanut sauce component stems from a recipe that I’ve used for a long time. It used a good amount of sugar, which I just eliminated completely and didn’t miss it all.
Based on a loose calculation from the labels of the products I used, I figured the entire recipe has just under 50 grams of carbohydrates. I was impressed with the low amount. And the recipe is so versatile and the leftovers last a few days.
The one product that works with these is the little gem lettuces. These are small, like only 2-3 inches in length and sold in a package containing six. They look like they came from the very inner portion of romaine lettuce. Because of their shape, you can use them like little cups. They are the perfect size if you want to serve this recipe as an appetizer.
For a larger, say lunch or dinner, portion, use mini romaine. These are a bit bigger than the little gem, but not as big as regular romaine. You will find them sold in packages of 3 in the produce section.
For this recipe, I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs that I ground myself in a food processor. Make sure the thighs are well-chilled before processing, which will prevent the chicken from becoming mushy. You can also use already ground chicken or turkey.
Asian ingredients are something I typically always have on hand, especially Sambal Oelek or ground chili paste. I use the one by Huy Fong foods with the green cap. You can also use one called ground chili garlic paste, with the addition of garlic. If you’re unfamiliar with hoisin sauce, it’s often referred to as a Chinese barbecue sauce.
When making the peanut sauce, be sure to adjust it to your own taste. It should have a peanut taste that’s not overpowering and hinted with the chili paste. You can also adjust the texture, I like it so it drips off a spoon and you can drizzle it over the wraps.
Finally, you can garnish to your hearts content with these. I like thinly sliced green onions and chopped cilantro. But you can also use very thin slivers of bell pepper or shredded carrot.
Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 large cloves garlic, peeled, minced
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 to 1-1/2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1-1/2 pounds ground chicken thighs or ground turkey
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons Sambal Oelek (ground chili paste)
For the peanut sauce:
- 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
- 1 1/2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 1-1/2 tablespoons Sambal Oelek (ground chili paste)
- 1-1/2 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons hot water
- 1 package little gem lettuce
- Sliced green onion
- Chopped cilantro
In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the garlic and sauté about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the onions and cook until just translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the mushroom slices and sauté until they are tender, another 3-5 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and ground chicken. Cook, stirring and breaking up into pieces, until it’s just cooked through. Stir in the hoisin sauce, rice wine vinegar, tamari and Sambal Oelek. Cook until the chicken is coated with the sauce and the mixture is hot.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together all the sauce ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. If it’s too thick add a little more water or soy sauce to reach desired consistency.
Separate the lettuce into leaves. Add a heaping tablespoon of the chicken mixture to the lettuce cup, top with a drizzling of peanut sauce and sprinkle with green onions and cilantro.
Makes 6 servings.
Test Kitchen is Tribune News Service column by Susan Selasky, the food writer and Test Kitchen director for the Detroit Free Press, where she develops and tests recipes and answers readers’ questions about all things food. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @SusanMariecooks