Chicken Yuk Sung - lettuce leaf wraps
Light, fresh and tasty, these are ideal for a make-it-yourself starter (always the most relaxed way to begin a meal) and even for a light low-carb lunch. Yuk Sung comes from the Chinese word for “fluffy meat” and describes the almost shredded texture of a dried meat you can buy which is used for topping a rice porridge or tofu dish. This recipe has moved a long way from there, and the only fluffy thing about it is the crispy rice vermicelli, which impart a fabulous crunch to the mouthful.
I have used preserved Chinese vegetable in the recipe, which gives a deep sour salty background and a slightly squeaky texture. You buy this in packs from a Chinese grocery or on line, and you can use it in a lot of Chinese food. If you can’t get it, substitute some well chopped firm fresh white cabbage, and soak it in salted water for 10 minutes.
I have based the filling on a recipe from the always reliable Kwoklyn Wan, (kwoklynwan.com) with a few additions from other sources. It went down a treat with my family and we made it into a main course and served rice alongside too.
Serves 4 Timings: 60 minutes – which is mostly vegetable chopping, the cooking only takes 10 minutes
Wash the lettuce well and separate the leaves but keep them whole. You can leave the lettuce in cold water to crisp up while you fry.
Combine the sauce ingredients and set aside in a small bowl.
Put about 2cm of oil in your wok, heat up well and deep fry the vermicelli a few at a time. They will puff up instantly and turn brown nearly as quickly, so scoop them out and put them on kitchen towel to drain. You can salt them lightly.
Remove most of the oil from the wok and start to stir fry.
Fry the ginger, garlic and chilli for 30 seconds to release the aromas, then add the chicken. Stir fry for 5 minutes or more until the chicken is cooked through and the juices have evaporated and concentrated back into the meat. Set aside on a plate.
Fry the onions, carrot, pepper, water chestnuts and preserved vegetable briefly to soften them. Add the sauce to the wok and cook for a couple of minutes to start to concentrate it. Add the chicken mixture back in, stir and cook. There shouldn’t be liquid in the bottom of the wok, you are looking for a fairly dry mix.
Remove the wok from the heat and let cool a couple of minutes while you drain and spin the lettuce and get the vermicelli on the table.
Let everyone make their own parcels of delicious delight, wrapping the filling of spicy chicken and vegetables and a pinch of crunchy vermicelli in the tender lettuce.
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