My oldest friends (time-wise, not age-wise) live just under an hour away from me, and there’s a handy restaurant right off the highway pretty much smack dab in the middle between us. We often meet there for shared appies and dessert, and one dish that almost always makes its way to us is lettuce cups with a spicy glazed chicken of some sort. To be honest, that chicken dish isn’t my favourite. I’m pretty sure it involves peanuts and cilantro, and more spice than my wimpy tongue prefers, but it is pretty, and always fresh tasting with the cool, crunchy lettuce.
When I eat that lettuce cup, the thought crosses my mind that it could easily be changed into something more like one of my go-to grilled chicken recipes. And likely it could be slightly fried to give it a crispiness under the glaze similar to the delicious but labour-intensive sweet and sour chicken my family loves.
Yup, it sure can be all of those things.
THIS is my kind of chicken lettuce cup.
This lettuce cup is filled with chicken that is sweet and sticky, with just enough crispy and savoury. Top these little beauties with julienned carrot, finely chopped cucumber, crunchy ramen noodles, extra sesame seeds, a drizzle of hot sauce…whatever strikes your fancy! Anything with a bit of crunch is going to be perfect.
This chicken is ideal for making as a freezer meal since prepping it involves zero cooking, just chopping some chicken and tossing it in some cornstarch in a big ol’ freezer bag. Mix up your sauce, put it in another small bag, and freeze it all together as a package ready for a busy day. While you’re making one for dinner you might as well have a freezer bag open and just cut a bit more chicken at the same time!
If your kids (or husband?) are thrown off by the lettuce wrap concept, this mixture tastes just as good in a flour tortilla. Tortillas are a weekly staple around here and it’s nice to have an option besides our usual fajita or chicken Caesar flavours. Wrapped up in a flour tortilla with the same accessories of lettuce, cucumber and shredded carrot, it also becomes a great portable lunch.
Let me know if you try ’em to balance all the festive food surrounding us at this beautiful time of year!
- 2-3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
- ⅓ cup cornstarch
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 tsp)
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- ¼ tsp chili pepper flakes
- ¼ tsp each salt and pepper
- 3-4 Tbsp canola oil
- TO SERVE: Iceberg or butter lettuce, pulled apart into large pieces
- Optional toppings: diced cucumber, sesame seeds, julienned or finely chopped carrot, crispy ramen noodles, hot sauce
- Dice chicken into small bite-size pieces. Toss in large bowl or freezer bag with the cornstarch to coat all sides.
- In a small bowl, whisk together honey, soy sauce, garlic, sesame seeds, chili flakes, salt and pepper.
- To cook: Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat, until oil is shimmery and hot. Put a piece of chicken in to test: the chicken should sizzle immediately. When oil is hot, add chicken and stirfry, stirring frequently, until the edges of the chicken look golden, 4-5 minutes. Add sauce and cook, stirring constantly, for another 2-3 minutes, until sauce is simmering and slightly thickened and chicken is cooked through.
- Serve chicken in lettuce pieces, with toppings of your choice.