It may seem that, seeing that I’m posting nearly a week after this meal was cooked, I might not have the credibility to comment on the chicken lettuce wraps chosen by Kimberly. However, tonight was not the second but the third time that I have partaken of my leftovers for dinner. So needless to say, as I sit here and type (while simultaneously watching So You Think You Can Dance and putting a warm compress on the stye that is a new addition to my right eyelid) I can still taste the bold and sexy (any dish containing cilantro will henceforth qualify as sexy) flavors of the meal dancing on my tongue (which, incidentally has been destroyed by sunflower seeds. Yes, I’m currently a hot mess). While my recent consumption of the lettuce wraps will allow me to give a legitimate review of the final product, the details of the preparation may be a bit less precise. Nonetheless, I’ll begin at the beginning and hope for the best.
Let me just start by saying that this recipe had me at Sriracha and water chestnuts, so I was positively giddy with anticipation for this dish. For lack of other options, I did my k1tchenb1tches supply-gathering at the Real Food Co. I picked up the easy items first and waited until the last minute to look for the item that recipe warned us about – the chicken. Sadly, the chick in the blog was right and Real Food failed me again. First no habaneros and then no ground chicken?? But, so as not to give my nemesis grocery store the satisfaction of getting a rise out of me, I decided not to cause a scene and disrupt the corporate couple/hipster/smelly hippie clientele and politely accepted the ground turkey that the butcher offered me, even though he admitted that it would give the meal a significantly different taste. Luckily, the other ingredients were very easy to find. I was pleasantly surprised to find canned water chestnuts right at eye level in the ethnic foods aisle (which I am becoming familiar with on account of the last two recipes). To my delight, the water chestnuts were nestled right next to one of my other favorite Asian ingredients, bamboo. Although the recipe didn’t call for this, I felt that this encounter was too fortuitous to pass up. This became the first of several instances in which I took a page out of Kim’s book and digressed from the recipe. More on this later. After some awkward conversation with the gentleman at the cash register, I took my groceries back to my house only to find that I had forgotten the ginger (which, as it turned out, was the key ingredient). I was headed back to Real Food, but luckily found some ginger in the little liquor/produce store on the way. As a side note, I’m nearly positive that the owners/workers at that store are part of a high powered, top secret Armenian gang. But that’s neither here nor there.
When I got home, I turned on an episode of Friends (surprise surprise) and assembled my fixins.
In terms of the actual preparation, I don’t remember specifics but suffice it to say that everything went smoothly. I substituted leeks for the green onions because I had a surplus in my fridge, and I also added hoisin sauce because let’s face it, it’s delicious and totally appropriate for this meal. Things that I will do differently next time (and believe you me, there will be a next time) include:
-Grating the ginger instead of mincing it. The taste was a bit overpowering, especially considering it was a part of both the dipping sauce AND the filling. I also used it in the bok choy that I sauteed as a side, but that’s just my own fault.
-Chopping the water chestnuts in bigger pieces so as to render an even more satisfying crunch. Don’t get me wrong though, between the crisp lettuce and the delicious little water chestnut morsels, the crunchiness of this dish was positively tantalizing. But you can’t have too much of a good thing, so next time, I will do whatever I can to enhance the crunch factor.
-You might think that I’m going to say that I’ll use chicken instead of turkey on my next attempt, but I must say that I found the ground turkey to be much more enjoyable than I was expecting. Someone let me know about the nutrition comparison though, as that could change my mind.
So as the preparation wrapped up, I found myself with enough ground turkey mixture to feed the homeless population of the area surrounding the Civic Center BART station. But my kitchen smelled amazing and I was ready to dig in and taste that ginger-y, Asian-y goodness. So with Justine on speaker phone, I dove in.
HOLY CRUNCHINESS! I loved just about everything about this dish (despite the aforementioned issues to take into account next time). The cold, fresh lettuce, the crispy, buttery water chestnuts, the pungent ginger, the rich hoisin sauce, and the tart lemon. Oh, the lemon. That sneaky bastard of an ingredient snuck up on me and blew my mind. As a self-proclaimed lime enthusiast, I tend to turn my nose up at lemon (I know Kim agrees). But this little citrus packed a punch and mingled with the turkey and the Asian flavors like a divorcee having a dry spell at a singles mixer. And of course the Sriracha, of which I added close to double the suggested amount, sufficiently tortured my mouth in the way that I’ve come to know and love. And not that anyone cares, but the sauteed bok choy that I threw together was mediocre and slightly bitter. I also enjoyed my lettuce wraps with an additional side of edamame, so my sodium intake rounded out at what was most definitely close to a lethal level.
So with all those things taken into account, I’m going to give this meal a solid A. I think I enjoyed it more each time I ate it, and I’ll certainly make it again and have already passed the recipe on to some colleagues who were looking for some new dinner ideas. Thank you Kimberly for this delicious recipe and also for kicking the review portion off with your always witty and charming review. I look forward to hearing what the rest of you though. Schurmeier and Coffin, I hope we’ll be hearing from you someday soon as well. Don’t be shy now.
Until next time, my bitchin’ kitchen brethren.