Chicken Soong Lettuce Cups
This classic minced chicken-and-vegetable dish is a showstopper and a crowd pleaser!
Some dishes are light on prep, but long on cooking time. This dish requires lots of chopping - "soong" means "minced" in Mandarin - but cooks in a matter of minutes. The good news is that you can prep the ingredients hours - even a day -in advance, should that be more convenient for you. The following recipe uses chicken, bell peppers, carrots, and string beans as the base, but it is quite adaptable to other vegetables (celery, mushrooms, or asparagus) and proteins (shrimp, lobster, or firm tofu). If you don't care for pine nuts, tru some diced water chestnuts for crunch. Served in lettuce cups with a drizzle of hoisin sauce, Chicken Soong is equally good as a first course or light main course. Leftovers are easily warmed and served again.
Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; wet and dry measuring cups; measuring spoons; mixing bowls; small whisk or fork; wok or large sauté pan; wooden spoon
¼ cup soy sauce
4 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts (1 whole breast), finely diced
2 tablespoons avocado or vegetable oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 red pepper, finely diced
1 yellow pepper, finely diced 2 large carrots, finely diced
1 cup chopped haricots verts or string beans
½ cup pine nuts, toasted
3 scallions, white and light green parts thinly sliced
1 head Bibb lettuce, (leaves separated, washed, and dried) 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
ILOC tip: make this dish your own by adjusting seasoning (add some finely ground white pepper), or flavor (use some minced garlic and ginger, sesame oil, sugar, rice wine, etc.). This dish is entirely about technique, not torture!
1. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and cornstarch. Set aside.
2. In a large sauté pan or wok over medium-high heat, add the vegetable oil and diced chicken breast. Sprinkle with kosher salt and sauté for about 2-3 minutes. Add the peppers, carrots, string beans, and scallions and sauté for another 2-3 minutes, until softened (firm but no longer crunchy).
3. Return the chicken to the pan and add the toasted pine nuts. Add the soy sauce mixture and stir-fry until the sauce thickens, about 1-2 minutes.
4. T o serve, either A) place the Chicken Soong in a large bowl surrounded by the lettuce leaves with a small bowl of hoisin sauce, or B) arrange lettuce leaves on a large platter; top lettuce leaves with a heaping spoonfuls of the chicken mixture; dollop with hoisin sauce and serve immediately.
“Bibb is the most elegant and flavorful lettuce choice in which to serve Chicken Soong. Iceburge lettuce, while not as tasty nor as nutritious, is a sturdy and crunchy old-school option.”
Makes 4-6 main course servings.