Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wonton Soup and Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Chicken Lettuce Wraps
 I've made lettuce wraps before but these turned out almost exactly like the ones I've had at PF Changs. However, in the vein of total honesty, I think I need to say that I believe that they were better! They didn't taste greasy at all, and sometimes the ones there are slightly greasy. They also were just a little bit sweet, and again, theirs are sometimes a  bit too sweet for me. These hit the PERFECT balance of sweet and spicy, a bit of crunch from the water chestnuts and green onions, and a melting softness from the butter lettuce. The added benefits of a lower fat, low carb meal are hardly worth mentioning, because this doesn't taste like a "healthy" meal -- but it is. How great is that? Guilt free indulgence!

One of the best parts of this 2 part meal is that since many of the same ingredients are used in both dishes, you don't have to feel guilty about purchasing something and just using it once!
Wonton Soup
 This soup, on the other hand, was inspired by one made by my sweet cousin when I visited her last year. She promised me it was easy, and it was! It was also just as delicious as I remembered. I watched her make it last fall and I followed her suggestions and cooking advice to recreate it. I added fresh shiitake mushrooms, mostly because they looked so fresh in the store when not much else did! I decided to add them to the Lettuce Wraps I'd planned as well. They were a bit on the pricey side, $3.99 for 8 oz. but I am glad I splurged. WOW, were they good in the soup and in the lettuce wraps, too! My cousin and I agree, this soup has got it all -- spicy, silky, fresh and flavorful -- UMAMI!

Read the recipes first and do all your chopping of similar ingredients at one time to save yourself time!

Since many of the ingredients in the recipes contain quite a bit of sodium, I did not add any additional salt to either recipe. We found these dishes to be well seasoned without doing so. You may want to taste them before you add any. 

First, the soup:

Wonton Soup
4 servings

32 oz. organic, low sodium chicken stock or broth or homemade
(I used "Imagine Natural Creations Chicken Stock")
1 pkg. Trader Joe's frozen mini Chicken Cilantro Wontons (or your favorite) 12 oz. size
1 tsp. minced fresh ginger 
1 T. Sriracha chili garlic sauce or to taste
2 T. hoisin sauce
2 T. dry white wine (optional)                                               
1 T. soy sauce
2 tsp. "Nakano" brand seasoned rice wine vinegar
1/2 c. chopped Shiitake mushrooms (leave them out if you hate mushrooms)
To Serve:
2 thinly sliced green onions
2 - 3 T. rough chopped cilantro
Lime wedges
In a medium saucepan, combine the stock or broth, ginger, Sriracha, hoisin, wine, soy and rice wine vinegar. Bring this to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer. Cover and let cook about 5 minutes. Add the wontons and bring it back to a boil. Turn the soup down slightly so that it gently boils and cook 7 - 10 minutes until the wontons are cooked through. Add the mushrooms to the broth for the last 2 minutes,  if you are using them. You just want to heat them up a little. Don't cook them long. 
To serve the soup. ladle the broth and several wontons into a bowl, squeeze a lime wedge over it and sprinkle with cilantro and sliced green onions. Delicious! You can easily double this recipe for a bigger group or cut it in half for a quick lunch. 

NOW on to the Chicken Lettuce Wraps!

Chicken Lettuce Wraps
serves 4
1 lb. lean ground chicken, white meat only
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 cloves minced garlic (about 1 T.) 
1 8 oz. can water chestnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 c. chopped Shiitake mushrooms
1/4 c. hoisin sauce
2 T. soy sauce
2 tsp. "Nakano" brand seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 T. grated fresh ginger
2 tsp. Sriracha or more to taste
To Serve:
Lime wedges
2 green onions, thinly sliced 
2 - 3 T. chopped and washed fresh cilantro
1 head butter lettuce, washed and leaves separated

In a large non-stick skillet, over medium/high heat, brown the chicken, breaking up the large chunks. About 3 minutes in, add the onion and the soy sauce. When the onion starts to soften, add the garlic and the ginger; continue cooking about 5 minutes, stirring to combine. Add the hoisin sauce, rice wine vinegar and Sriracha. Cover and cook about 10 minutes to let the flavors blend. Add the water chestnuts and mushrooms and cook until heated through. At this point, you can hold it [ to 30 minutes, or refrigerate if you plan to serve it later.
To serve, place a few spoonfuls of the warm chicken mixture in the center of a piece of butter lettuce. Sprinkle with some green onions and a little cilantro, squeeze a lime wedge on it, wrap it up and enjoy! 

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