asian turkey lettuce wraps

Back in the olden days when I used to live out of Hilton and commute to Philadelphia, I also used to eat of out chain restaurants practically every night. Suburban Pennsylvania wasn't a super hub of haute cuisine at that point - although I'm sure it is now. After a few months there, my coworker and I joined the local gym and then would treat ourselves to P.F. Changs afterwords. It was so good that you knew you were dying faster as a result of eating there.

One of the meals I used to really like was the lettuce cups - so here is my first take on it. I actually found this recipe while trolling Pinterest on the train one day. I already had the ground turkey meat in the freezer so it was a relatively easy one to pull together.

The benefit of this meal was that I was able to make a batch of this turkey mix in less than 15 minutes on a Sunday ... and then eat it all week. It comes together really fast and reheats well. However, after having my first two lettuce wraps I also discovered that this is absolutely not a meal. I was still starving. The following night I whipped up a batch of rice with my rice cooker and added that in. In my mind, the rice is required at this point. It becomes suddenly clear why this recipe was posted on the domain "eat yourself skinny".com.

A few notes:

  • chili paste // I didn't have chili paste... and I absolutely wasn't going back to the store for a one time ingredient. I substituted in some tomato paste and a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper. Be gentle with the cayenne, it really gives it a kick.
  • rice // see above. This is pretty much not optional in my book. 
  • lettuce // I have always loved how tender and sweet Boston lettuce is - but it might be beneficial to swap in something with a little more structure. After a few bites of the wrap, I pretty much grabbed a fork.
Here's how it goes:
  1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and then add turkey, garlic and ginger to the pan. Cook until the turkey is browned. Use your spoon to help crumble some of the meat. It'll cook faster. 
  2. Add the onions and chopped chestnuts to the pan. Stir well. 
  3. In a small bowl, combine the hoisin, soy sauce, rice vinegar and roasted red chili paste (or substitute) and drizzle over the turkey mixture. Toss to coat completely. 
  4. Serve in lettuce cups with a base of rice.
Shopping List
1 lb. lean ground turkey
olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
⅛ tsp. ground ginger
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 (8 oz) can sliced water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp. roasted red chili paste
⅛ tsp. salt
Boston lettuce leaves 
Rice

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