These Lettuce Wraps Will Ruin You For Other Food Oh Well Sorry
It’s been a while since I’ve abused you with a recipe and now I’ve been drinking and the alcohol demons inside my belly are whispering up through the shattered fissure of my acid-scorched esophagus and they are humming IT IS TIME IT IS TIME AGAIN TO PUNISH YOUR READERS WITH A SURLY, PROFANE-LADEN RECIPE FROM BEYOND HELL’S OWN CRADLE and so fuck it, here I am, telling you how to make chicken lettuce wraps.
Okay, I’ll admit, that doesn’t sound particularly bad-ass.
Is it possible to say that in a bad-ass way?
Like, LETTUCE WRAPS, ALL CAPS, GROWLED IN A CANCEROUS WAY.
Still not really, no.
Maybe it needs rebranding. A new name.
LA LECHUGA DEL DIABLO.
HEAD-SKIN OF THE GREEN MAN FILLED WITH HOT MINCED COCK.
Whatever, you know what? This will be so good, it doesn’t need a kick-ass name.
It just needs kick-ass flavor, and the way we do that is with a moist, steaming dollop of Guy Fieri’s DONKEY SAUCE. Ha ha ha, no, seriously, kids, don’t put anything Guy Fieri touched on your food, it’ll taste like those weird exxxtreme pubes he has on his face. That’s what those are, right? He just glues his dyed pubes up there around the taco-hole he calls a mouth?
Let’s talk about this food, and not Guy Fieri’s crotch-face.
This recipe is very customizable.
I prefer a life with options, and I like my recipes the same way. I don’t want to just follow an obvious list of ingredients and measurements. I want the freedom to choose, say, BISON GONADS instead of CHICKEN THIGHS. Because this is America and our freedom is so free it’s basically obscene so why not revel in it? If I want to use cabbage instead of lettuce, who will stop me? You? WHO RUN BARTERTOWN? MASTER CHUCKSTER RUN BARTERTOWN. LIFT EMBARGO.
Man, I’m starting to think that drinking during these recipes isn’t best.
Welp, too late.
Let’s get on with it.
You’re going to need:
SOME KIND OF LETTUCE. It needs to be the kind of lettuce you can fold up like a little botanical taco, a little purse held in the hand. This lettuce must work as a food receptacle. If you have some particular entanglement with a specific type of lettuce, hey, you do as you like. Iceberg is fine but has no flexibility. Romaine is long and holds up but again, same problem: it’s like scooping food into a spine and ribcage combo. I like Boston or butter lettuce.
SOME KIND OF PROTEIN. I use chicken thighs for this, not chicken breast because despite the titillating name, chicken breast is the dullest fucking protein outside maybe tofu. (Calm down, vegetarians, tofu is just fine, but we all know it’s a treacly flavor-sponge.) Chicken breast is the protein equivalent of off-white paint. Here, I want flavor. Which means I want fat. Which means I want chicken thighs. You can do something else, of course — pulled pork shoulder, ground beef, the sweetbreads of a census taker. Or hell, use chicken breast. I don’t care. Hate yourself with bland white meat. I’m not your mother, even though I dress like her and hide in your closet.
SOME KIND OF VEGETABLE. Pick one vegetable that will go with the protein into the lettuce wrap. Don’t get greedy — I said one vegetable. Hint: don’t choose onion, because that’s going in there already. Kinda. Sorta. No, I mean, choose another vegetable or veggie-esque product. Like, little oyster mushrooms or Shiitake. Or green beans. Or snow peas. Spinach. I don’t fucking care. Commune with your Personal Jesus and make a decision.
SOME KIND OF ONIONY THING. Lots of varieties of onion available to you. I prefer shallots in this instance because you get the flavor of onion and garlic together, and you can soften them nice and caramelize them or make them crispy as you see fit. By the way, “caramelize” is a poor term because it makes me think something is covered in caramel and that is a crass lie. You don’t promise caramel if there’s no caramel. You don’t do that to a person. That’s like waterboarding. It’s just like it. Anyway, other oniony things that work: sweet onions, red onions (which are better left raw here), spring onions, leeks, or ramps. Ramps, of course, which make every hipster foodie motherfucker like me basically juice our drawers every spring. They have a 17-minute window of existence at your local farmer’s market and THEN THEY GONE.
SOME KIND OF CRUNCH FACTOR. I like demanding that my lettuce wraps act as a divine symphony of unholy textures inside your crass, base, human mouth. I prefer nuts for this (ha ha ha no, not those nuts, you weirdo). You could do a “nut mix,” and you could throw a few Brazil nuts in there for the selenium. Cashews and mac nuts make for a nice addition. Sometimes I throw in a mix of sunflower seeds and pepitas. Or just the broken teeth of a fist-punched leopard.
Got all that covered?
Now, it’s time to assemble.
You will cook your protein in the manner of your soul’s yearning. When I use chicken thighs (six of ‘em for two-and-a-half people), I grill them first for about six minutes on each side, making sure the meat is salted and peppered before it ever tongue-kisses the grill-fire. Then I let the meat rest to seal in juices (MEAT MUST SLEEP) before dicing it up to go into the pan.
While your meat is resting, you want to cook up your oniony bits. As noted, for me, diced shallots. Here again is another CHOOSE YOUR OWN CULINARY ADVENTURE moment as you can decide what oil you like best. I hear some weird things about vegetable oil, which is maybe true or which is maybe spooky anti-science bullshit, but whatever. Either way, vegetable oil for me is about as interesting as chicken breasts. Coconut oil imparts a nice taste, and olive oil is always a friendly option. Just make sure it’s real virgin olive oil, which is to say, produced by temple virgins.
Shallots. Soften. Or crisped. Whatever.
Then: diced chicken thighs into the mix.
So too must the vegetables go into the pan: punished because they’re vegetables and not meat.
Brown the meat, soften the veggies a bit.
Now it’s SAUCY TIME.
*oils beard, whips off pants, starts dance music*
Wait, no: sauce time. SAUCE time.
*washes beard, applies pants, turns on sensible music*
Into the pan goes:
A tbsp of rice wine vinegar.
A tbsp of tamari soy sauce.
A tsp of mirin.
Stir it up, let it cook for a couple minutes.
Then: hoisin sauce. Around a quarter-cup of it.
Mix, mix, mix.
Cook another, mm, say, five minutes.
In the meantime, it is time to clean your lettuce. I clean the lettuce because I assume it was touched by a hundred people before it ended up in my basket, including but not limited to: a flu-addled gopher, a syphilitic farmer, a just-masturbated produce stock-boy, ten sticky-fingered elementary-age school-children, and Guy Fieri. So: wash your lettuce. And then dry your lettuce.
Now: add the crunchy bits to the pan. You don’t need them to cook long. Also add one or two herbs: cilantro and/or Thai basil. Diced as you see fit, stirred around good, mmm. If you’re so inclined, squirt a little sesame oil in there before removing immediately from the heat (cooking too long after will soften the crunchies, take the flavor out of the herbs, and dull the sesame oil).
Scoop into a serving receptacle (bowl, dish, elk skull).
Put lettuce on serving tray (cutting board, plate, shell of a rare sea turtle you killed).
Now, assemble lettuce wraps.
Lettuce in your hand (or robot mitten or lobster claw or whatever ends your arms).
Spoonful of the yummy concoction into the lettuce.
Squirt some Sriracha or other favorite hot sauce atop it. So too with a little lime juice.
(Of course, limes are now being held hostage by Mexican cartels? What the actual fuck? It’s some kind of limepocalypse out there. Right now I can only buy the tiniest little shitbird limes and they’re like, a buck a pop? How the hell will I make gin and tonics now? And don’t say “bottled lime juice,” which is mostly just high fucktose corn slop. How dare you. How dare you.)
Fold, spindle, mutilate.
You should be hearing angels singing to a cacophony of loud electric guitars.
You may be sexually aroused.