the appetizer:

Chinese cooking, like most of Asia, focuses first on a starch like rice or noodles, then adds an accompaniment of meat or seafood, rather than meat first, starch and vegetables second, as found in European-influenced cuisines. Recipes in China are as diverse as the language, with its 80,000 characters, and Chinese immigrants have brought this complex culinary heritage to almost every region of the world.



Minced Poultry with Walnuts in Lettuce Cups

by Martin Yan

This is my version of a favorite banquet dish that's often served on festive occasions as a symbol of longevity. The crisp, chilled lettuce makes a wonderful contrast to the warm filling, and the sweetness of the hoisin sauce marries all the flavors.

1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken, turkey, or duck
1 tablespoon oyster flavored sauce
6 dried black mushrooms
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 small carrot, cut into l/4-inch cubes
1 small zucchini, cut into l/4-inch cubes
1 cup diced water chestnuts or jicama
1 tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts
12 small iceberg lettuce cups
Hoisin sauce


1 . Cut chicken into 1/4-inch pieces. Place in a bowl and add oyster flavored sauce; stir to coat. let stand for 10 minutes. Soak mushrooms in warm water to cover until softened, about 15 minutes; drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the soaking liquid. Trim and discard stems. Chop caps.

2. Place a wok over high heat until hot. Add cooking oil, swirling to coat sides. Add ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add chicken and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add carrot, zucchini, and water chestnuts; stir-fry for 30 seconds.

3. Add reserved mushroom soaking liquid and cook until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add wine and sesame oil; cook until heated through. Add walnuts and toss to coat.

4. To eat, spread hoisin sauce on a lettuce cup, spoon in some to chicken mixture, wrap up in lettuce cup, and eat out of hand.

Reprinted by permission from Martin Yan's Culinary Journey Through China by Martin Yan (KQED Books).


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This page modified January 2007

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