Chino Latino Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Borrowing a concept from Thai cuisine, these lettuce wraps are full with flavors from Asia and Latin America. It bears resemblance to both picadillo and larb (a traditional Laotian and Thai dish) in it’s cooking method and is spiked with sweet and heat from the east and west.
While traditional larb sometimes incorporates roasted, ground rice, this version instead includes *freekeh, a roasted green wheat that packs fiber and protein. Fresh herbs and pickled peppers give each bite an extra dimension. Try this interactive, build-your-own dish next time you have company. Everyone will have fun!
Ingredients & Method
For Pickled Peppers:
- 1 red bell pepper, cut in thin strips
- 1 yellow bell pepper, cut in thin strips
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
- 2 Thai chilies (or other very hot peppers), pierced to release heat
- ¾ cup rice vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 ½ T salt
- 2 T sugar
Place peppers, hot peppers and garlic in a large heatproof jar or container. Bring water, vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil. Pour hot liquid over peppers. Place a heavy item over container to ensure that peppers are fully submerged in the pickling liquid. Let cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate for a few hours.
- ½ cup freekeh
- 1 ¼ cups water
In a small pot bring water and freekeh to a boil. Reduced to a simmer and cover. Cook until water is evaporated (Just like rice!).
For the chicken:
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1 green bell pepper, small dice
- 1 shallot or ½ small onion, small dice
- 4” nub of ginger, grated
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 Thai or Serrano chile, thinly sliced
- ¾ cup pineapple juice
- ¼ cup chopped mint, plus ¼ cup whole leaves
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro, plus ¼ cup whole leaves
- ¼ cup chopped basil (preferably Thai if available), plus ¼ cup whole leaves
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 oz. tequila
- 1 Tablespoon of grape seed or neutral oil
- Salt to taste
- Whole leaves of Boston, butter or red leaf lettuce or any combination thereof
- ½ avocado, thinly sliced
- 1-2 limes cut in wedges
In a medium pan, heat oil on medium high heat. Add chicken, breaking it into small bits and browning lightly. Add shallots or onion and green pepper, ginger and soy sauce. Cook for about 5 minutes or until peppers and onion are soft. Add garlic. Once garlic becomes fragrant pour in tequila and cook until almost all of the tequila is evaporated. Add pineapple juice and thai chili. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for about 10 minutes. Remove cover, stir in freekeh and continue to cook until all liquid has disappeared. Fold in chopped basil, cilantro and mint and season with salt if desired.
On a large platter arrange lettuce leaves, pickled peppers, whole mint, basil and cilantro leaves, avocado slices, lime wedges and chicken-freekeh mixture. Enjoy fixings on top of chicken in what ever way you want!
*Freekeh is wheat that is harvested when it is young and green and then roasted. Research shows when wheat is harvested young, its grains retain more protein, fiber and minerals than mature wheat.