Tuesday, February 23, 2010

USA! USA! USA!

Ah...it's that time again. The Winter Olympics are upon us! I do so love to watch the Games, especially figure skating, but so many of the other events, too. In fact, I enjoy the Winter Olympics SO much more than the Summer Games, with the only exception being women's gymnastics. And these Olympics are particularly exciting because they have come back to North America, just across the border to our friends in the Great White North, specifically to the Pacific Northwest where I grew up (not Vancouver per se, but Washington and Oregon). The last time I visited Vancouver was circa 1999, and I long to return. I was there for a communication conference at that time, so I didn't have much opportunity to explore the majestic beauty of the region; I only saw downtown and all of those buildings that seemed to have been designed by Mike Brady. (Sidebar: Honolulu is like that, too--lots of swinging 60's structures that resemble radiators. Tee hee.)

I did, however, get to sample some of the tasty cuisine that Vancouver has to offer. It's a very diverse place ethnically, with lots of Asian influences. So in honor of the Vancouver Winter Olympics, and with fresh spring greens starting to become available, I have constructed an Asian-themed dish with a decidedly American flair (while the Chinese may have invented everything else, I think the lettuce wrap hails from modern Asian bistros in this country, perhaps to entice the lo-carb and gluten-free crowds to dine out?). In any case, these turned out mighty tasty, and were great to munch on while we watched the ice dancing finals last night. Though let me warn you, it made TWICE as much filling as necessary, so you might want to halve the recipe. But then again, the leftover noodles will be nice to take to work for lunches this week or to snack on while watching the last week of the Vancouver Games.


Gina's Olympic Lettuce Wraps

1/4 cup vegetable or peanut oil
12 oz. mushrooms, wiped and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb. ground chicken
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and minced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 - 8 oz. can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
3 scallions, sliced thinly
2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons stir fry sauce (your favorite kind--mine was from Trader Joe's)
2 teaspoons garlic-chili paste or sriracha (to taste)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 6.75 oz. package rice sticks, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes, drained and cut into short lengths

1 head Boston/bibb lettuce, stem removed and leaves separated

Heat the oil in a very large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped mushrooms and onion and cook until onions are translucent and soft. Add the ground chicken, ginger and garlic and cook until the chicken is no longer pink. Add the water chestnuts, scallions and carrots, and cook another minute or two. Stir in all of the sauces, oil, vinegar and seasonings and mix well. Heat another minute or two until bubbly. Mix in the noodles and once well-combined, taste to correct seasonings (also, mine seemed to want another tablespoon of vegetable oil at this point).

Serve a big pile of lettuce on one dinner plate, and a heaping mountain of the noodles on another, and let everyone make their own little lettuce wraps, each sprinkled with a little more soy sauce or tamari (and more hot sauce for the daring!).

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just made this! YUM :) Thanks for linking the recipe to your facebook (and tagging ME--such an honor). It made tons, just as promised.
One thing that I found different than our good buddy P.F.'s restaurant is that you used softened rice noodles instead of the tiny crazy greasy crunchy ones. Thanks--this is healthier and I can keep my bangs and eyebrows.
Take care,
Adrienne

JoyBugaloo said...

Yes, I much prefer the rice noodles...and the leftovers warm up great for lunch the next day! Glad you enjoyed it, Adie! Love you, friend! :-)