Last Saturday night, I dined out at a local Chinese restaurant, and somehow I’m still–to this very moment—thinking of the lettuce wraps I had.
Still thinking about
l e t t u c e, I said. It wouldn’t be quite so remarkable if it weren’t for the facts that a.) it’s iceberg lettuce, and b.) it’s not cake.
Nevertheless, I’m preoccupied.
What made those wraps delicious was their intensity and depth of flavor. With one mouthful, I felt all five of my basic tastes had been satisfied.
They managed to strike a delicate balance between sweet and salty, crunchy and tender, rich and refreshing.
This afternoon, I experimented with recreating them at home. Hoisin, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, sesame oil, ginger, chili powder…a little of this, a lot of that. And in the end, I was really happy with the finished product. It’s sweet, salty, and zesty, with only a faint kick of spice. The best part is that there’s room for adaptation.
I hope you try this meal, that you love it, and that you find yourself thinking of it long after it’s over. Then I’ll know I’m not the only one who does such things.
*Note for my wonderful, dedicated readers: I promise not to use ground turkey or ground chicken again for at least a month. Three recipes that call for one of them in a week’s time signals to me that I need a break from the ground poultry.
¼ cup hoisin sauce, found in the Asian food section of the grocery store
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound 93% lean ground turkey breast
2 cups finely chopped button mushrooms
½ teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
3 cloves garlic, minced
1” knob of fresh gingerroot, finely minced
3 large carrots, grated (about 1 ½ to 2 cups)
6 scallions (green onions), finely chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
1 (8-ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
1 head iceberg lettuce
In a small bowl, whisk sesame oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, and hoisin sauce. Set aside.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add ground turkey and cook for 5 minutes, using a spatula to crumble the meat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the turkey is no longer pink and the mushrooms have begun to soften. Add salt, chili powder, garlic, and ginger, and stir to combine. Add the soy sauce mixture to the pan and stir to coat all ingredients. Cook for 3 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken slightly. Add carrots, scallions, and water chestnuts, and give the whole pan one final stir. Remove from heat.
To serve, divide lettuce leaves among four plates. Spoon a small amount of turkey into each lettuce leaf and fold to eat.