New Orleans is littered with small restaurants that would shame most other cities’ finest cuisine. So, I have a very hard time identifying one “favorite” restaurant. To solve the problem, I usually just cop out and say “P.F. Chang’s.” It really shouldn’t hold that coveted spot at the top of my list. In truth, it doesn’t, even if that’s what I say. I get the same thing every time I go to P. F. Chang’s, but the part of the meal that’s most important are the Lettuce Wraps.
I tried to recreate a paleo version of the chicken lettuce wraps, complete with the little special sauce they make at the table. I can tell you, what I’ve created is good, but it isn’t the P. F. Chang’s lettuce wrap that you’re used to. So, any comparison of my paleo version to the original doesn’t stand a chance. The normal version is chocked full of sugar and who knows what else that I can’t put into a “paleo” recipe. But if you want to mix it up, and try these out, you won’t be completely disappointed, they came out pretty good. There is a link to the recipe at the bottom of this post.
I pre-diced my bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, ginger, dried chilies (that’s actually Habenero in the picture, I used it cause I had it already), green onions, and shiitake mushrooms. Then I started the recipe by combining coconut aminos (paleo-friendly soy sauce alternative, dry sherry, water, sesame oil and arrow root. This mixture gets set aside for a little bit.
Ideally, I’d cook the diced chicken breast and all these other ingredients in a wok but 1) I’m not really sure where we put ours cause we never use it, 2) I’ve had only minor success in a wok, and 3) the non-stick skillet works just as well. So, the chicken gets a quick 3-4 minute sear. Because it’s diced, it cooks very quickly.
Remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside. Then, for only a minute, I stir-fry the ginger, garlic and green onions. Add in some shiitake and bamboo and chestnuts, and cook for another few minutes. Despite it being a non-stick pan, this requires some stirring to prevent burning and sticking. Next, I add the chicken back in along with that mixture we put on the side (it’ll need a quick stir before you pour it into the pan). Warm it up, and it’s ready to serve.
The easy part is scooping the chicken into the lettuce wrap. The hard part is eating it without making a mess. A quick note on the lettuce: I probably should have paid more attention to the lettuce physiology when buying the head of lettuce. Mine was kind of misshapen which made peeling perfect little wraps off the head a difficult task.
The recipe also includes a sauce that’s made of agave nectar, coconut aminos, rice wine vinegar, tomato paste, lemon, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, Chinese hot mustard, sesame oil and water. I pour the sauce right into the lettuce wrap, then ride down my arm when eating. Usually by the time I go for seconds, I just tear the lettuce up, pour the chicken and sauce on top and eat it like a salad, but that’s not quite as pretty.
While they may not be the original, these chicken lettuce wraps are worth the little trouble they are to make. The recipe looks kinda daunting to me at first, but I’ve separated everything, including the ingredients to make the steps a little easier to follow. The Chicken Lettuce Wraps Recipe is included on my Recipes page.