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Author Notes: These little wraps are great for summer entertaining or for a tasty and easy family meal, as they come together quickly after all the chopping of produce. Lightly cooked bell peppers, shredded carrot and peanuts give them extra crunch, and the hoisin, ginger, orange and hot sauce combine for maximum flavor! Inspired by & adapted from a Rachel Ray recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/barbecued-chinese-chicken-lettuce-wraps-recipe.html
- 10 fresh shiitake mushrooms, washed & stems removed, tops halved then sliced thin to make 2 cups of sliced shiitakes
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 inch ginger root, finely grated on a microplane grater
- 1/2 red bell pepper, diced small
- 2 scallions, diced
- 1 orange, zest and cut into wedges for garnish
- 1.5 pounds chicken breast (4 chicken breast halves) or chicken tenders, cut into very small pieces, about 1/2-cm. cubes or smaller
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- fine sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 2 teaspoons sambal oelek or other hot pepper sauce
- 1/4 cup crushed unsalted peanuts
- 6 chives, chopped small
- 2 bunches romaine lettuce leaves, thoroughly washed and stems removed (about 20 leaves of varying sizes)
- Prep the fresh ingredients and set aside in separate prep bowls as you go: Wash mushrooms, remove their stems, halve and slice the tops. Mince the garlic, grate the ginger, dice the 1/2 bell pepper, shred the carrot, dice the scallions and zest the orange (then slice and set aside wedges for garnish). Crush the unsalted peanuts in a mortar & pestle or use a knife to chop and crush; wash & chop the chives.
- Cut the chicken into the smallest pieces you can (no larger than 1/2-cm. cubes) and sprinkle lightly with salt & pepper (note: if you are using salted peanuts, go easy on the salt here or omit). Heat oil in a large skillet and cook the chicken until it is no longer translucent, 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- When chicken is no longer translucent (but not fully cooked through yet), add the mushroom slices, garlic, ginger, bell pepper, carrot and scallions and let cook through, about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally (cover to hasten the cooking time).
- dd the orange zest, hoisin sauce, and sambal oelek and stir; taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Turn the heat off and add the peanuts and chives, mix once more and give it a final taste. Adjust seasonings as necessary, then transfer filling to a large serving bowl.
- To serve, scoop a few spoonfuls of the filling into the romaine leaves, or let guests assemble their own. Set out orange wedges and extra chives for garnish if desired; I found a little spritz of orange over the top brings out the vibrant flavors. You might also like to serve it with steamed white sticky rice; my little one enjoyed filling her wraps mostly with rice and a little filling. Enjoy!