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Soy-Garlic Marinated Chicken in a Lettuce Wrap

Soy-Garlic Marinated Chicken in a Lettuce Wrap

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Marja Vongerichten shows the steps to one of her go-to Korean dishes

Jessica Chou

Soy-Garlic Marinated Chicken in a Lettuce Wrap

Marja Vongerichten, of PBS' The Kimchi Chronicles, shares one of her favorite dishes that she thinks is approachable for anyone who wants to try cooking Korean food.

Watch the video above for the full demonstration or follow the recipe below!


For the soy-garlic marinade:

1 large onion

1 cup whole garlic cloves

1/2 Asian pear or American pear

1 cup water

1 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 cup sesame oil

For the chicken:

Sesame oil

2 breasts and 4 thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces


For the marinade:

Put the onion, garlic, pear, and ½ cup of the water in the bowl of a food processor and blend them until it becomes a coarse paste. Pour the paste into a bowl and add the soy sauce, brown sugar, and sesame oil and mix all together.

For the chicken:

Thinly coat a skillet with sesame oil and heat over high heat. Mix the chicken and marinade thoroughly, and cook the chicken for 8-10 minutes depending on the size of the cut.

Lettuce Wraps

1/3 cup hoisin sauce
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 Tablespoon sriracha (optional)
1 Tablespoon rice wine (or any other) vinegar
3 cloves garlic, grated
2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
¼ cup fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped
8 whole butter lettuce leaves
1 cup bean sprouts
½ head cabbage, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
1 large cucumber, cut into short thin strips (about 1 cup)
Sweet chili sauce for serving

Lettuce Wraps

For the chicken and marinade: Mix the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, grated ginger, Sriracha, rice wine vinegar and grated garlic in a large bowl or resealable plastic bag. Add the chicken strips and marinate, refrigerated, for 2 hours.

Heat a grill pan over high heat.

Remove the chicken strips from the marinade and grill until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with the peanuts and cilantro.

For the lettuce and fillings: Set out the lettuce, bean sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers and rice noodles on the serving platter.

To assemble, use the butter lettuce leaves to contain the chicken and fillings. Add some chili and hoisin sauce, then roll them up and eat!

Lettuce wraps are everything. Absolutely everything. And I know they&rsquove been around forever, and I know they&rsquore everywhere, and I know I shouldn&rsquot have worn turquoise mascara when I got my senior pictures taken back in the eighties. I get that. But I&rsquom not sorry.

(For the lettuce wraps or the turquoise mascara.)

Here&rsquos how I like to make them!

First, make the marinade for the chicken, which is the cat&rsquos meow, the bomb, and Heaven. It starts with hoisin sauce&hellip

Next, squeeze in a little Sriracha, also known as I Love the Stuff.

A little rice wine vinegar (or heck, any vinegar!) is good&hellip

And some minced garlic and minced ginger.

Next, just slice a couple of boneless, skinless chicken breasts into strips&hellip

And add them to the marinade, tossing it around to coat it. Then cover it and pop it in the fridge for a couple of hours. You&rsquoll be soooooo glad you did.

After that time, grill them on a grill pan (or you can saute them&hellip)

Until they&rsquove got fabulous grill marks and are totally cooked through.

Oh, and one more thing! Grab a package of those super thin cellophane noodles and pour boiling water over them in a bowl.

Read the package to see how long they need to sit it doesn&rsquot take long at all for them to be soft and tender and magical. Then rinse them in cold water so they&rsquoll stop cooking&hellipbut also so they&rsquoll be cool!

Gracious. Will you look at that chicken for a sec?

Oh, and what the heck, go ahead&helliptake two secs!

Pile it on a board with shredded carrots (these are the packaged ones), sliced red cabbage, cilantro leaves, julienne cucumbers, and of course&helliplettuce leaves.

Or don&rsquot, depending on how hungry you are.

Oh! Chopped peanuts! (Cashews are good, too!)

Oh, and another thing: Bean sprouts. Love those in lettuce wraps. I just didn&rsquot have any.

To build the beautiful babies, grab a lettuce leaf and drizzle in a little sweet chili sauce&hellip

Lay on a couple of pieces of chicken&hellip

Then throw on everything else: noodles, carrots, cabbage, cucumbers, cilantro, peanuts, a little more chili sauce (or hoisin or soy or Sriracha.)

(I didn&rsquot take a photo of the lettuce wrap&mdashor me&mdashafter I took my first bite. It wasn&rsquot pretty.)

(But it sure tasted pretty.)

Note: The printable recipe is at the top of this post, over on the right sidebar. You can also access the printable recipe here:

I&rsquom still working to get the actual printable put into the post itself, but in the meantime, here&rsquos the straight-up recipe if you&rsquod like to see what&rsquos in it!

Lettuce Wraps

1/3 cup Hoisin Sauce
1/3 cup Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Grated Ginger
1 Tablespoon Sriracha
1 Tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar
3 cloves Garlic, Grated
2 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut Into Strips
1/4 cup Chopped Cilantro
8 whole Butter Lettuce Leaves
1 cup Bean Sprouts
1 cup Thinly Sliced Red Cabbage
1 cup Julienne Carrots
1 cup Cucumber Slices
2 Tablespoons Chopped Peanuts
1 cup Cooked Thin Rice Noodles
Sweet Chili Sauce, For Serving

For the chicken and marinade: Mix the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, grated ginger, Sriracha, rice wine vinegar and grated garlic in a large bowl or resealable plastic bag. Add the chicken strips and marinate, refrigerated, for 2 hours.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.

Remove the chicken strips from the marinade and grill until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with the peanuts and cilantro.

For the lettuce and fillings: Set out the lettuce, bean sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers and rice noodles on the serving platter.

To assemble, use the butter lettuce leaves to contain the chicken and fillings. Add some chili and hoisin sauce, then roll them up and eat!

Chicken Lettuce Wraps


  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 3 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water until soft, remove stems and chopped finely
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 2 fresh water chestnuts, chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • Steamed Rice
  • Hoisin Sauce
  • Sweet Chili Sauce
  • 2-3 carrots, shredded
  • freshly chopped cilantro
  • lime wedges
  • For the Marinade:
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 stalk scallion, finely chopped
  • 3 dashes ground white pepper
  • 1 fresh and cold iceberg lettuce head
  • Serve with Steamed rice, Hoisin Sauce, Sweet Chili Sauce, dried rice noodles, shredded carrots, freshly chopped cilantro and lime wedges


Mix the ground chicken meat, chopped mushrooms and water chestnuts with all the Marinade ingredients. Set aside for 15 minutes.

Heat up a wok or pan and add the cooking oil. Saute the garlic until light brown and then add the chicken. Stir-fry the ground chicken and break up the lumps so they form into nice small pieces. Continue to stir-fry until the chicken is cooked, then set aside.

Carefully peel off the lettuce leaves from the iceberg lettuce head. Be careful not to break the leaves. Scoop up a big spoonful of chicken and place it in the middle of a lettuce leaf.

Top the chicken with some fresh cilantro, dried rice noodles (great for some added crunch!), carrots and a squeeze of lime juice. Wrap the lettuce leaf around the chicken, like a burrito, and dip into the hoisin sauce or sweet chili sauce before eating.

You can also drizzle some sauce on top, instead of using them as dips. Or you can do both!

Quick Navigation

  1. Mix up the sauce ingredients and marinate the chicken in half of the sauce for at least an hour or overnight.
  2. When you are ready to eat preheat your grill to 400 degrees. Grill chicken until fully cooked, about 4-6 minutes on each side (depending on the thickness of your chicken)
  3. Heat the remaining sauce in a medium saucepan to warm up.
  4. Cube up the grilled chicken and toss in the remaining sauce.
  5. Serve immediately over bib lettuce with sesame seeds. That’s it!

Asian Lettuce Wraps for Almost Meatless Potluck

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Many years ago, my grandmother coined a phrase the women in my family haven’t been able to let go. My grandmother, the women noticed, would describe certain dishes — certain dishes she really liked — as “light light.” If Gramma declared a meal “light light,” the women knew she approved.

Since noticing the pattern, my mother and aunt have strived to make everything they serve to their mother “light light.” Buttermilk panna cotta and orange and olive oil cake pass the “light-light” test with flying colors. Well, when I took a bite of these Asian lettuce wraps made with ginger-marinated chicken thighs topped with a simple slaw of carrots, cucumbers, celery and scallions, I instantly thought of my dear Gramma mou and, of course, of my mother and auntie who will be so pleased to add another “light light” recipe to their repertoire. I know Gramma will approve.

This recipe is fabulous! What’s more, it comes from a book that one of my very own friends wrote! Yeah, I know, I have famous friends. This past April, my friend Tara Mataraza published a book, Almost Meatless, with co-author Joy Manning. Tara and I met way back in Philadelphia while working at Fork, which recently received Three Bells from Craig Laban of the Philadelphia Inquirer … a huge deal. (Congrats Ellen and everyone at Fork!)

Anyway, when Tara invited me to participate in a virtual potluck on her blog, Crumbs on my Keyboard, I jumped. The hardest part about partaking in this event was picking the actual dish. So many of the dishes — crab pad Thai, steak salad with blue cheese dressing, and Thai coconut curry soup — I saw in the table of contents caught my eye. And if the recipe I’ve made here is any measure of goodness for what’s in the rest of the book, I am in for a real treat once my copy of Almost Meatless arrives.

I am most looking forward to making this recipe for company. It is simple to prepare, stunning to serve, and exceptionally satisfying to eat. Both the slaw and the meat are incredibly flavorful and the combination of the crunchy cool slaw with the tender hot meat is so yummy. Make it. You’ll be happy. I promise.

Chicken Lettuce Wrap Recipe

One of the reasons this lettuce wrap recipe is so quick to make (only takes 15 minutes) is because I use ground chicken. That cuts time on both prep and cooking time.

The perfectly balanced and tasty sauce only has 3 ingredients. The combination of savory oyster sauce, the sweetness of plum sauce (you can also use duck sauce) and a bit of acid from rice wine vinegar is all you need.

Kathy’s Notes

  • This Asian lettuce wrap recipe doesn’t have any mushrooms. I have many friends that don’t like mushrooms at all so this recipe is perfect for them.
  • I have added yellow bell peppers for color. Of course you can use red or orange bell peppers as well.
  • Water chestnuts add a nice crunch. However, if you don’t like water chestnuts, you could use diced jicama instead.
  • Want to make it spicy? Add diced jalapeno at the same time you add the bell peppers. You could also add dried red pepper flakes for extra heat.
  • Love toppings? Add chopped roasted cashews or peanuts as a garnish.
  • For the Asian lettuce wraps you can use romaine, iceberg, red leaf lettuces and even radicchio.




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Step 1

Mix soy sauce, brown sugar, fish sauce, and 1 Tbsp. sambal oelek in a small bowl set aside.

Step 2

Heat oil in a skillet over medium. Add scallions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened (a little color is okay), about 3 minutes. Add chicken and lightly season with salt. Cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon and tossing occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, 5–7 minutes. Add reserved soy sauce mixture and cook, tossing occasionally, until liquid is almost completely reduced, about 2 minutes.

Step 3

Serve chicken mixture with lettuce, herbs, lime wedges, and more sambal oelek for making lettuce wraps.

How would you rate Spicy Chicken Lettuce Wraps?

Sooo tasty and quick to make! I didn't have ground chicken so I diced a chicken breast and it worked perfectly. I also only used a teaspoon of sugar. Definitely going to make again

Surprised by how good this was. Truly low effort HIGH reward. I added some canned baby corn to mine which was MWAAH! Have some celtuce I picked up at the Chinese grocery that I'm stoked to add to tonight's version. Might also add an egg, some nuts. Probably would make an awesome spring roll filling. So many possibilities to keep this meal "new" week-to-week :O

Has become a regular meal on our list of favorites.

This is a household favorite and I finally decided to show some love with a review -- this recipe is the PERFECT meal for literally any night. It's highly customizable, easy, quick, delicious, and flavorful. Chaey is a hero <333

Wayyy too salty even after being cut with the lime juice. Recipes also needs Hoisin sauce or something.

This recipe has become a beloved regular in my home. I’ve made it as-is, I’ve deconstructed it and turned it into a rice bowl topped with lettuce and herbs, I’ve made it with several different proteins, and I’ve even taken the absolutely-to-die-for sauce and added it to different Asian inspired dishes. My dinner tonight just might be this sauce on some noodles and shrimp. It truly is a delicious recipe.

I love this! I've made it many times, but recently I've started adding a punnet of diced shiitakes and some grated carrot for more veggies. We usually have this with rice and some sliced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and the dark green parts of the scallions on top. (If adding mushrooms and extra veg it will need more seasonings.) Quick, delicious, and versatile. Next time I'll try it with tofu instead.

Super easy and really tasty. The given recipe is a great base but as others have suggested, you definitely want to double the sauce as well as add other veggies to lighten it up. I did shredded carrots, but onions and mushrooms would be delicious too. I also added some toasted sesame oil and ginger.

Most excellent, easy dish! I like to sauté thinly sliced cabbage with the scallions and garlic. Lightens the dish, adds more vegetable, and for those caring about frugality, makes a little pork/chicken go a long way! Like others said, double sauce (but not the sugar).

Made this for dinner tonight and LOVED IT! Pretty easy and super delicious. Love the spicy chicken, almost like an easier version of Thai larb gai. Definitely serve as recommended with extra sambal and I added some sambal cashews for a little extra crunch.

I cannot tell you how delicious this recipe is or how often I make it. I often double the scallions, and will sometimes add finely diced mushrooms when I add the ground chicken to extend the recipe. Tonight I’m going to try adding a little msg! I usually serve this with lime wedges and fresh torn herbs over rice, but it’s also good tossed in noodles (I know it’s not authentic but I had soba noodles on hand), although I try to make it a little saucier with the noodles.

I added a lot of finely chopped mushrooms and water chestnuts, so had to nearly double the sauce. I think the add-ins made it! Will be making again.

So easy and delicious! This has become my weekly go-to dinner.

Made this tonight for the fam – turned out great! I took some creative liberties based on what I had around. Substituted brown sugar for honey, doubled the sriracha, added lemon at the end. Amazing! Iɽ serve it with a side of rice.

Phenomenal! Used Taiwanese lettuce as my little wrap and ground turkey instead of chicken but the spirit was the same. Definitely at least double the sauce and be creative with other add-ins (I chose chopped red bell peppers and little cucumbers). I would consider adding some vinegar/lemon/lime juice for acidity too. Also, be liberal with the Sriracha.

The Best Sauce

Thai food is all about the balance of sweet, savory, salty and sour. For these Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps, I wanted a multi-dimensional balanced sauce and not just flat soy based sauce. My resulting Pineapple Peanut Hoisin sauce is perfectly balanced and utterly drool worthy.

This sauce is what gives the chicken filling its rich, savory depth and what makes these wraps so incredibly addictive.

This Thai sauce is made of:

  • hoisin sauce: it’s like sweet, salty and tangy Asian BBQ Sauce. It an be found in the Asian section of any grocery store. Please use only quality hoisin sauce like Lee Kum Kee or Kikkoman as all hoisin sauces are not created equal.
  • soy sauce: grounds the sauce. Please use low sodium soy sauce so your sauce isn’t too salty.
  • rice vinegar: use unseasoned rice wine vinegar. It adds a tangy acidity to balance the flavor profile.
  • brown sugar: adds sweetness to balance the soy and vinegar. You may need more or less brown sugar depending on the acidity vs sweetness of your pineapple.
  • red curry paste:red curry paste packs a huge flavor punch because its made of fnely ground coriander, peppercorns, Kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, lime leaves, cilantro, shallot, garlic, and fresh chiles – all combined for you.
  • ginger: adds a warm spicy, almost pepper taste. You only need 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger so feel free to use ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger instead.
  • garlic: garlic makes everything better! You can use more or less garlic depending on your garlic love. You can substitute the fresh garlic with 1 teaspoon garlic powder.
  • dried basil: basil is quintessential to Thai cuisine. It adds a layer of savory, peppery and slightly minty flavor.
  • peanut butter: creamy peanut butter adds a nutty earthiness and creaminess that marries all the ingredients together.
  • Asian chili paste or sriracha: if your sauce is missing something, it is heat! Add chili sauce to taste. If you aren’t sure how much to add, you can start with less then stir in more at the end if needed.

Cooking notes

I recommend browning the ground chicken first and taking it out before adding other ingredients. My recipe uses tons of mushrooms and water chestnuts. If you cook everything at the same time, the pan will be too crowded and difficult to keep at a high temperature. The chicken meat won’t brown properly. Instead, it will end up being boiled and losing all the juices.

garlic press to mince garlic and use a lemon zester to mince the ginger. The recipe below might look long, but you’d be surprised how quickly you can prep these ingredients.

Serve the dish the family style without assembling it first, so the right-off-the-stove chicken won’t wither the lettuce leaves. Plus, it allows each family member to choose their own favorite toppings and sauce. It makes the dining experience much more fun.

@omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.