Memories of good meals stay with me forever. In college, I lived with a fantastic
cook who loved to entertain. One night Christine hosted a fun girls’ get-together
featuring a simple yet impressive menu: Asian chicken lettuce wraps with
homemade chocolate fudge cake for dessert! Although this is not Christine’s
original recipe, it was inspired by her memorable feast. Lettuce wraps are not only great for entertaining, they present themselves as a quick weeknight meal option. For this particular version, nutty sesame oil is added to diversify the Master Stir-Fry Sauce. Sliced apple, perhaps an unusual addition, provides a refreshing crunch against the zesty ginger.
1 head of Bibb or Iceberg lettuce
¼ tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp (15 ml) vegetable oil
1 lb (454 g) ground chicken or turkey, white and dark meat mix for best flavor
2 cloves of garlic, grated
1 (2-inch [5-cm]) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 cup (237 ml) Master Stir-Fry Sauce
1 green apple, skin on
1 tbsp (10 g) sesame seeds
Place the Bibb (or Iceberg) lettuce on its side and slice off about ½ inch (1.3 cm)
at the base; the leaves will separate easier this way. Wash and dry the leaves and
set aside until ready to use.
Warm the sesame oil and vegetable oil in a large, 10-inch (25-cm) cast-iron
skillet. Add the ground chicken (or turkey). Cook until lightly browned, about 4-5
minutes, or until all of the moisture has evaporated. Add the garlic and ginger,
and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Quick Tip: Before adding the stir-fry
sauce to the pan, give it a quick shake or whisk to dissolve any cornstarch that
has settled to the bottom. Otherwise, the sauce won’t thicken properly.
Pour the stir-fry sauce into the pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1-2 minutes to
thicken. Remove the pan from the heat.
Cut your apple into thin slices and then across into thin, matchstick-size strips.
To assemble, add spoonfuls of your flavorful chicken filling to the crisp lettuce
leaves. Top with a few apple sticks, sprinkle with sesame seeds and tuck in!
QUICK-BRAISED BABY BOK CHOY
When baby bok choy shows up in my CSA delivery box, I squeal with delight. To
me, bok choy is one of the most tasty, albeit underused, vegetables around. It
belongs to the cabbage family. Keep your eyes peeled for this versatile veg, the
season runs from early summer to mid fall.
Generally speaking, “quick” and “braise” normally don’t go together, as the latter
refers to low and slow cooking. But because baby bok choy is so small and
tender, this dish is a breeze to make.
4 heads of baby bok choy
2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
1 clove of garlic, grated
¾ cup (177 ml) Master Stir-Fry Sauce
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
Slice your baby bok choy in half lengthwise or into quarters if they’re large. Give
them a good rinse under cold water to remove any grit or sand caught in between
the leaves. Dry thoroughly.
In a large, 12-inch (30-cm) skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Once
the pan is hot, add the bok choy, alternating placement base to leaves as you go.
Cover and cook for about 3-4 minutes.
Remove the lid and flip the bok choy over. Continue to cook (uncovered) for
another minute. To check for doneness, insert a small paring knife into the base;
if it comes out easily, they’re ready. If there’s resistance, cook for another minute.
Transfer to a serving platter.
Add the garlic to the pan and stir until fragrant, 30 seconds.
Quick Tip: Before adding the stir-fry sauce to the pan, give it a quick shake or
whisk to dissolve any cornstarch that has settled to the bottom. Otherwise, the
sauce won’t thicken properly.
Pour the stir-fry sauce into the pan. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 1-2 minutes
Spoon the glossy sauce over the bok choy and sprinkle with red pepper flakes.