Friday, October 24, 2008

lettuce wraps

The other day, the Oldest Carrotstick called me and asked if I would take her and some friends to lunch. Trying to be the good mom, the mom you can count on, the mom who chooses her battles and which hill she is going to die on, I agreed.

But I almost disagreed when the Oldest Carrotstick and 5 boys walked over to my car.


Did you catch that?


Ok. At least she couldn't be in love with all of them. But what if they were all on her top five?? Then what????

Deep breath.

Still breathing.

Ok. So. The kids wanted to go to the local chinese all-you-can-eat buffet.

Our very noisy group went in, got our seats, and then went right for the buffet. But when we sat down to eat, it was dead SILENT except for the occasional gasp as the boys paused momentarily to come up for air. The Oldest Carrotstick and I were amazed at the sheer volume of food those boys pounded. I'm sure the proprietor shook his head when they walked in, knowing that his profits for the afternoon would be quickly eaten away.

Finally, a tower of dirty plates later, the ever-hopeful manager was distributing the "it's time for you to leave NOW" fortune cookies, and their growing boy/man-sized hunger was at last sated. But not before the memory of a little fortune cookie prank had snuck to my mind and I couldn't get rid of it.

Cue the flashback:

Several years ago, we went to visit my sister, Farm Girl, and her husband, Mr. Beaver Mtn. in Logan. One night we went to a local Chinese restaurant famed for their Tiny Spicy Chicken and a surprisingly large carp in a disgustingly dirty fishtank. After dinner, Farm Girl told us an ancient Chinese Secret: in order for the fortune in your fortune cookie to come true, after you break open the cookie, you must, without reading it, dip the paper in your drink and then plaster it onto your forehead. Everyone at the table must read it first, before you can take it off and read it yourself. Once you've read it, wad the fortune into a little tiny ball and swallow it. Then, and only then, will all your chinese fortune cookie dreams come true.
I couldn't resist. It was a little like the bridal shower I went to this spring. I couldn't help myself. I, an adult authority figure misused my powers to convinced these silly silly kids to eat paper. One by one, they broke open their cookies, pasted their fortunes on their foreheads, and then looking at me for reassurance -- which I gave them with a big thumbs up -- wadded them up in a ball and tossed 'em back with a swig of lemonade.

It was awesome.

And then they did it again.

And again.

I reassured them that the paper was just a bit of added fiber.

I know they appreciated the added bonus of a little extra regularity.

Even now I have to smile when I think about it. I wonder if their parents will ever let me take them anywhere again.

But, I promise I won't mislead you on this Good Food Friday.

This Good Food Friday, grab a bag of fortune cookies and whip up a batch of

Lettuce Wraps Will Keep You (on the) Straight and Narrow

8 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp dry sherry
2 tsp water
salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken
5 tbsp oil
1 tsp fresh minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, minced
2 small dried chilies, (optional)

1 (8 oz) can bamboo shoots, minced
1 (8 oz) can water chestnuts, minced
1 package cellophane Chinese rice noodles, prepared according to package

Cooking Sauce:
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp water
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch
Iceberg lettuce "cups" leaves (or Bibb or Romaine)

Cover mushrooms with boiling water, let stand 30 minutes then drain. Cut and discard woody stems. Mince mushrooms. Set aside. Mix all ingredients for cooking sauce in bowl, and set aside.
In medium bowl, combine cornstarch, sherry water, soy sauce, salt, pepper, and chicken. Stir to coat chicken thoroughly. Stir in 1 tsp. oil and let sit 15 minutes to marinate.

Heat wok or large skillet over medium high heat. Add 3 TBSP oil, then add chicken and stir fry for about 3-4 minutes. Set aside.

Add 2 TBSP oil to pan. Add ginger, garlic, chilies(if desired), and onion; stir fry about a minute or so. Add mushrooms, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts; stir fry an additional 2 minutes.
Return chicken to pan. Add mixed cooking sauce to pan. Cook until thickened and hot. Break cooked cellophane noodles into small pieces, and cover bottom of serving dish with them. Then pour chicken mixture on top of noodles. Spoon into lettuce leaf and roll.

These are yummy. And they are good for you. I'm not lying. Seriously. And the cellophane noodles are cool to make -- they are the ones that puff up really fast when you put them in hot oil. But, the wraps are ok without them, if you don't want to mess with another step.

Really. Trust me! Would I ever mislead you?



I promise.

chinese buffet picture by Midtown Lunch


Allyson said...

Sounds fun! I can't wait to try your lettuce wraps - have you ever had the lettuce wraps at PF Chang's? They are amazing!

the lunch lady said...

these are supposed to be a knock-off of Chang's recipe. you'll have to try them and tell me if you think they are close. I think they are pretty darn good regardless.

Liz said...

That is awesome! I have FOUR boys. Maybe I could convince them to try that. I think when Adam gets back we'll try it. :)

DailyFamily said...

5 boys?? Watch out, your carrotstick is pretty darn cute.

Hurray for adult influence!! I love that they actually ate the fortunes. :)

jana said...

Yum, lettuce wraps!! They are so good! I might just have to try my hand at them. Was the O.C.'s fortune that she would attract a swarm of interested/smitten young men???? She is the cutest, you know!!!

Farm Girl said...

Fortunes are just like pills, you have swallow them to make them work. Everybody knows that.

Shem said...

Five Boys... hahahahahahahahaha! I am SOOOO sorry for you. Hahahahahahahaha! I shouldn't laugh. Hahahahahahaha! That is what you get for producing cute, amiable, outgoing children. Hahahahahahahahaha!

Amy said...

I have to admit, I've never heard of that ancient Chinese tradition. Maybe that is why none of my fortunes come true. Maybe I will see if my co-workers will fall for this ploy. Five are a brave soul. I think I would have locked the doors and driven off claiming I didn't see her.