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Ah, lettuce cups – as crunchy and refreshing as a salad but WITH flavor! A brilliant invention. This here is a recipe I’ve been making for years and it’s an adaptation from America’s Test Kitchen. I love everything about it, it’s savory, a little bit spicy, very satisfying and takes little effort to put together. Plus, apart from the vegetables and the chicken breast, it’s made purely with very regular pantry ingredients. You can serve these as an appetizer but they are pretty filling so I find that they make a great main course.
- 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon cornstarch
- ¼ cup sake
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- vegetable oil for frying
- 5 large shiitake mushrooms, chopped
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- hoisin sauce (optional)
- Put the chicken cubes in the freezer for about 10 minutes until they start to harden. (This will make it easier to process it).
- Meanwhile whisk vinegar, soy sauce, oil and cornstarch together in a bowl. Set aside.
- Grind the chicken in the food processor, then mix it into the marinade and put in the fridge for 10 minutes.
- Whisk sake, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, oil, sesame seeds, cornstarch and pepper flakes together in a bowl. Set aside.
- Heat a bit of vegetable oil in a pan on high heat.
- Fry the chicken in the oil until cooked through. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Add more oil to the pan and fry mushrooms, green onions and celery until they start to soften.
- Add the chicken back into the pan, then add the sauce and cook until it thickens and turns translucent.
- Fill the lettuce leaves with the chicken mixture.
- Serve with hoisin sauce (optional).
Food Photography and Styling: This is an old photo, I took it several years ago and had forgotten about it but when I made this recipe again recently I was reminded of it and thought “Why not post it?” I don’t remember all the details but I do recall that these are actually two lettuce leaves that I stitched together with a toothpick to make it look like a more or less round bowl. The white sake set fit well with the Asian theme and with the white square plate that the cup is sitting on. I used my strobe to light the set from the side.
Nikon D300, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/125 sec., ISO 200. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.