Lettuce wraps – oh my they are so good!!!! So this Southern Girl never even heard of a lettuce wraps until 1996 when I visited a P.F. Chang’s in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Lets be honest when you grow up in a low income household in the South in the 1960’s and 1970’s you are lucky to even have lettuce in the house. And then it was only iceberg lettuce (back when we did not realize that green leaf salads were better for you). Also eating out was a luxury in the day. The only time our family were lucky enough to enjoy restaurant food was after church on Sunday when we would go to Sammy & Nicks (Newport News, Virginia) to get a cheeseburger boat which I always shared with my sister.
I feel in love with P.F. Chang’s lettuce wraps from my very first bite. The combination of the crisp lettuce, the flavorful chicken browned with sesame oil with water chestnuts and ginger leaves you wanting more and more.
Only problem is when I moved to the North Carolina the closest P.F. Chang’s is over 40 minutes from my house. This fact resulted in me diving in to the internet world to find a copycat recipe of P.F. Chang’s lettuce wraps.
While researching the history of Lettuce Wraps, I learned that they have been around for thousands of years originating in Southeast Asia, but recently have become popular in many restaurants, across the U.S and around the world. However, they were not called lettuce wraps at that time. The term wrap was not used until the 1980s, but some restaurants served hamburgers with lettuce in place of buns as early as the 1970s. These early examples typically used two leaves of lettuce that were not necessarily wrapped around the fillings, though the basic concept was the same. While lettuce wraps are widely used in today’s society, the traditional “wrap” consisted of cabbage, blanched pumpkin leaves, seaweed, and bean leaves.
After a few try and error experiments to find the perfect combination, I found that the chicken lettuce wraps I made at home were even better than P.F. Chang’s! Using boneless skinless chicken thighs and extra veggies resulted in the most delicious lettuce wraps and an absolute crowd pleaser with my family!
Please don’t be discouraged about the different sauces used in this recipe, I literally purchased all the ingredients at my local grocery, Harris Teeter. I can tell you that Asian market prices are better than the grocery store on the ingredients for this recipe, so if you can one close by you should pay them a visit.
I like to serve by wraps family style on a large platter. Also for a dipping sauce for the wraps I take half of cup of Asian chili garlic sauce and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and whisk them together to make a delectable sauce.
One of my favorite part of the PF Chang’s Lettuce Wraps are the crispy little noodles on top. You can make these at home with a little vegetable oil and Pho Rice Noodles. It literally takes less that a minute to cook once you oil is heated. Heat 1 inch of oil in a large skillet. Drop the rice noodles into the hot oil and fry for 1 minute or until crisp, but not browned. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. When I make these at home it is a chore to stop the grandbabies from jumping in and eating all the noodles before we even sit down to dinner.
I hope your family enjoys this recipe as well as mine. Literally, the last time I made a batch of these wraps the kids were fighting over the last few bites in the bowl.
Best Ever Lettuce Wraps (inspired by P.F. Chang’s)Course: Main, AppetizersCuisine: AsianDifficulty: Easy
Best Ever Lettuce Wraps – the combination of the crisp lettuce, the flavorful chicken browned with sesame oil with water chestnuts and ginger leaves you wanting more and more.
4 tablespoons of sesame oil
2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into small cubes
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
2 small shallots, finely chopped
2 8 ounce cans of whole water chestnuts, finely chopped
2 cups of fresh cabbage, finely shredded
2 teaspoons of ginger, minced
2 teaspoons of garlic, minced
1 head of Boston Bib Lettuce
2/3 cup hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon Asian chili garlic sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/3 pack of Pho Rice Noodles
1 cup of vegetable oil or canola oil
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the sesame oil and add in the finely cubed chicken.
- Cook the chicken thoroughly until it is browned. About 8-10 minutes
- Add in the diced shallot and let it sauté alongside the chicken for about 3-4 minutes.
- Next, add in the water chestnuts, cabbage, garlic and ginger. Stir and let cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the cooked chicken and vegetables into the sauce mixture and let cook together for another 5 minutes.
- Heat 1 inch of oil in a large skillet. Drop the rice noodles into the hot oil and fry for 1 minute or until crisp, but not browned. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
- Serve in lettuce cup and garnish with fried noodles.