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Recipe

Chinese Grilled Chicken and Bibb Lettuce Wraps

Alexandra Grablewski

Servings: 4

You know those late May evenings when the days are getting longer and the air is a bit warmer? When lettuce is in season and it just feels right to make supper out of those lovely greens. Everyone loves to put together these little Asian “tacos,” and juicy, marinated grilled chicken thighs are the perfect warm component. Use the biggest outer leaves from a head of Bibb lettuce, add fresh cilantro and mint (plus cucumbers or fresh chiles, if you like), and set out peanuts, scallions, rice noodles or rice, and dipping sauce. You can double or triple the recipe for a party.

Ingredients

  • 5 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. fresh lime juice
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro, plus 20 more short sprigs
  • 1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. minced fresh garlic
  • 1 Tbs. light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. peanut oil
  • 3/4 tsp. Asian chili-garlic paste
  • 2 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions (any part)
  • 2 tsp. oyster sauce
  • 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
  • 1-1/2 cups cooked white rice, hot or reheated if leftover, or 4 to 5 oz. rice noodles, cooked, rinsed, and drained
  • 2 medium carrots, julienned or coarsely shredded
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts

Preparation

  • In a large nonreactive bowl, combine 3 Tbs. soy sauce, 2 Tbs. lime juice, the chopped cilantro, 2 tsp. ginger, 2 tsp. garlic, 2 tsp. brown sugar, the peanut oil, and 1/2 tsp. chili-garlic paste. Mix well. Add the chicken thighs, toss, and let sit for 30 to 45 minutes, tossing occasionally.
  • In a small bowl, combine the remaining 2 Tbs. soy sauce, 2 tsp. lime juice, 2 tsp. ginger, 2 tsp. garlic, 1 tsp. brown sugar, 1 Tbs. of the scallions, the oyster sauce, and 2 tsp. 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.
  • 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.

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