I am still trying to adapt to the combination of low fat and Ketogenic diets of my family. This Sunday I am posting two closely related recipes. This is the original recipe made with Hoisin sauce and sweet chili sauce, both of which have added sugar. I am going to adapt this recipe to be more in keeping with a Ketogenic diet in my second recipe.
A lettuce cup is like an Asian taco, meat and veggies wrapped in lettuce. This is one of those dishes that you would never find in China. This is a fusion dish, but it’s origin is in dispute. Some say it is a 100 year old British dish, others claim it as Taiwanese or even a P.F.Chang invention. I first had it at the E&O Trading Company, an up-scale fusion restaurant that has since gone out of business.
I usually use Butter lettuce because it makes a much better cup when you separate the leaves. However, you could also use green/red leaf lettuce or Napa cabbage, the upper thin portions of the leaf. Many recipes call for using iceberg lettuce for this dish, but Jan will not let me even bring it into the house (something about all of the vitamins having been bred out of it).
Both recipes can be made with either chicken or pork. Lettuce cups are very much in keeping with a keto diet, being mainly meat and greens. I will be making a sweet chili chicken and vegetable filling, Chinese celery (for Jan and Eilene). For my second recipe I will make unsweetened pork and oyster mushroom filling (for Myr and Chris).
Jan does not like me to make this dish too often. This is not because she does not like it, but because she likes it a bit too much. The spicy meat wrapped in crisp lettuce is hard to resist. For the starch eaters I was planning on making stir fried rice, but while I was at the Chinese market I found garlic stem. I had to have it. With one more dish to make, I am just going to make some steamed rice to complete the meal.
After Dinner Note: A special thanks to my daughter Eilene for her assistance in this meal. She took International Cooking this year in high school and has gotten much more interested in cooking. I was making two almost identical dishes at the same time. While the prep work could be done alone, the quick work of stir frying two pans at the same time would have been near impossible. She and I did this dance, where I would start a pan and then she would take over the stir frying, while I started the next pan. Then she would take over the second pan while I added ingredients to the first. Then switch again and then again, while I finished off the first two dishes and started the third. It was a very interesting tag team cooking experience.
Karl’s Asian Chicken or Pork Lettuce Cups
1 head Butter lettuce
1 lb. chicken (or pork), minced is better, but you may use ground meat
3 Tbs. soy sauce, separate uses
Pinch baking soda
½ tsp. corn starch
2 Tbs. peanut oil, separate uses
½ cup yellow onion, diced finely
1 cup Chinese celery, diced finely
½ cup water chestnuts, chopped fine
5 green onions, chopped finely
½ cup red pepper, diced finely
8 cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 cup Hoisin sauce
2 Tbs. Thai sweet chili sauce
1 Tbs. fresh ginger, minced
1 Tbs. peanuts, chopped
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1. Rinse Butter lettuce. Separate leaves and tear the outer leaves into cups (about a ¼ leaf per cup). Inner leaves may be torn in half or for the inmost leaves left whole. Shake off as much water and you can and let the lettuce air dry as you prepare the rest of the dish.
Tip: Whenever you are doing a stir fry it is a good idea to prep all of your ingredients before you start to cook. Chop your veggies and measure your sauces into a cup and set them aside. Once you start to cook there is no time to do any other prep.
2. Put the minced chicken (pork) in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and the baking soda. Let the meat marinate for ten minutes. Add the corn starch and mix well.
Tip: The baking soda changes the ph and prevents the muscles from contracting and squeezing all of the moisture out of the meat. The secret of using baking soda is to soak the meat in a dilute solution and then rinsing it off or only using a tiny bit. If you use too much the meat will become mushy and taste like soap.
3. Brown the chicken (pork) in one tablespoon of oil over a medium low heat in a large pan. When fully cooked remove to a bowl.
4. Add the rest of the oil to the pan and sauté the onions for 5 minutes over medium high heat, until they are just starting to pick up some color.
5. Add the celery and water chestnuts. Continue sautéing for 5 more minutes.
6. Add the green onions and garlic. Continue sautéing for two more minutes.
7. Return the chicken (pork) to the pan and add the red peppers, soy sauce, Hoisin and sweet chili sauces, and the ginger. Simmer until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.
8. Remove from heat and let the chicken (pork) cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes
9. Serve the chicken (pork) in a bowl garnished with the peanuts and fresh cilantro.
10. Serve the lettuce cups and extra sweet chili sauce on the side. Complete the meal with steamed or fried rice.