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4.1.14

Chinese Grilled Chicken and Bibb Lettuce "Wraps"

You know those late May evenings when the days are getting longer and the air is a bit warmer? That’s when our lettuce is thriving and it just feels right to make supper out of those lovely greens. Everyone loves to put together little Asian “tacos,” too, and juicy, marinated grilled chicken thighs are the perfect warm component. We use the biggest outer leaves from our Bibb lettuce, pick cilantro and mint from the garden, and set out peanuts, scallions, rice noodles or rice, and dipping sauce. Add cucumbers or fresh chiles, if you like, and double or triple the recipe for a party.

Serves 4

  • 5 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus 20 more short sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon Asian chili-garlic paste
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
  • 1⁄4 cup thinly sliced scallions (any part)
  • 20 to 24 medium or large Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves, washed and dried (from about 3 heads lettuce)
  • 20 fresh mint, basil, or Thai basil leaves
  • 11⁄2 cups cooked white rice, hot or reheated if leftover, or 4 to 5 ounces rice noodles, cooked, rinsed, and drained
  • 2 medium carrots, julienned or coarsely shredded
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped roasted peanuts

1. In a large nonreactive bowl, combine 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons lime juice, the chopped cilantro, 2 teaspoons ginger, 2 teaspoons garlic, 2 teaspoons brown sugar, the peanut oil, and 1⁄2 teaspoon chili-garlic paste. Mix well. Add the chicken thighs, toss, and let sit for 30 to 45 minutes, tossing occasionally.

2. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons lime juice, 2 teaspoons ginger, 2 teaspoons garlic, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of the scallions, the oyster sauce, and 2 teaspoons water. Mix well and put in a little serving bowl. Arrange the lettuce leaves, herb leaves, and cilantro sprigs on a platter. Put the rice or noodles, carrots, peanuts, and the remaining sliced scallions in small serving bowls or on a serving platter.

3. Heat a gas grill to medium. Arrange the chicken thighs on the grill and cook, covered, until grill marks form on the first side, about 3 minutes. Using tongs, move the pieces on a slight angle and continue cooking, covered, for 2 minutes to form crosshatch marks. Flip the pieces over and cook for 3 to 4 more minutes, or until the thighs are shrunken and cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board, let rest for a couple of minutes, and cut lengthwise into thin strips. Arrange the chicken on a serving platter and bring all the components to the table for everyone to assemble their “wraps” as desired.

This recipe was originally published with the article, The Pursuit of Happiness.