Thursday, January 17, 2013

Asian Lettuce Wraps With Ground Turkey

Chinese take-out used to be a guilty pleasure of mine. I didn't have it that often, but when I did it was always sinfully delicious. And loaded with crap and chemicals. But those crab rangoon are just so yummy and I still can't resist them if I find myself in a Chinese food situation. I haven't had Chinese take-out in at least 5 or 6 years and aside from the odd trip to P.F. Chang's (their pear mojito is one of my favorite drinks...for real) I don't eat or make Chinese or Asian food very often. My one attempt at a curry a few years ago ended in a broken sauce so the idea of Asian cooking was shelved after that.

I had wanted to make lettuce wraps for a while and last Sunday night provided the perfect opportunity. The Golden Globes were on and judging red carpet looks is always more fun with a friend. So my friend Julie came over and we ate food and did our best George Kotsiopoulos impersonations. George is my spirit animal.

I pulled this recipe from Pinterest and everything about it appealed to me except for the beef. I thought ground turkey would be a fine substitution and I turned out to be right. Here's the breakdown:

12 leaves of lettuce (Romaine, Butter, etc.)
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 lb ground turkey
Salt and pepper to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1-2 Tbs. chili sauce
1 Tsp. ground ginger
1 Tbs. rice wine vinegar
4 green onions, chopped

First, wash the lettuce leaves, pat them dry and set them aside.

Next, do some chopping. The red pepper, onion (I cheated - more on this in a sec), garlic, and green onion. About the cutting board situation - I had a nice new one all purchased from Epicurious and then they cancelled my order. So I need to find another! And now about the onions. I hate chopping them so much that I've just been buying the container of pre-cut onions from Trader Joe's. Sorry I'm not sorry.

I did manage to get that shiny new chef's knife though! To go from a dullish knife to a brand new one is like night and day. Hopefully there won't be any dispatches from the ER any time soon because that sucker is SHARP!

Now, we need to cook. This is so incredibly easy. Add the oil to a skillet on medium-high heat and let it heat up. Then, add the red pepper and onion and let them cook for about three minutes or until they get soft. Make sure they don't burn.

Add the ground turkey to the pan and start breaking it up with a wooden spoon. This will become easier as it cooks. Sorry if you find pictures of raw meat gross.

Cook the turkey for about 5 minutes until it's browned. It's okay if some of it is still pink because it will cook more. Season with salt and pepper to taste and turn the heat down to medium. 

Now you're just going to add everything else in - garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, chili sauce, ginger, and rice wine vinegar. Stir everything so it's well incorporated and let it cook for another 2 to 3 minutes until the sauce is thick.

When the sauce has thickened, stir in the green onion.

And that's it. To quote my hero the Barefoot Contessa, how easy is that? Add as much as you want to the lettuce leaves and chow down.

The flavor of these is pretty major. The hoisin sauce is delicious and even with only one tablespoon of chili sauce they were still pretty spicy. I am not a spicy food lover so if you are, by all means use a few tablespoons. If you are a Chinese take-out devotee I urge you to try these. They're so much more healthy and they're easy and the taste is legit. Now if only I could replicate that pear mojito.

Do you like lettuce wraps? What's your guiltiest take-out pleasure? Have you ever tried to make it at home?

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