Thursday, May 10, 2012


I don't know what it is about appetizers, but I love them more than any other "meal".  One of my favorite things to do when it's warm out is to serve an entire dinner made up of appetizers. This recipe, served with store bought spring rolls (not pictured because they were eaten as pre-appetizers) and homemade baked crab rangoon (just 'cause), can be made mostly ahead of time to avoid heating up the kitchen and needing to turn on the air conditioner on these lovely late spring evenings!

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
2 tablespoons soy sauce, plus 1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice cooking wine
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tablespoon sriracha
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or 2 cloves minced fresh garlic
1/4 teaspoon ginger
pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
one sweet onion, french chopped
4 scallions, cut into 1" pieces
one head iceberg lettuce, cored, cleaned and cut in half
chow mein or fried mei fun noodles, for serving
dipping sauce, for serving (recipe below)

Combine in a large bowl: 2 tablespoon soy sauce, rice wine, Worcestershire, sriracha, fish sauce, 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil, garlic, ginger, pepper, sugar and cornstarch.  Add chicken, coat with sauce, cover, chill and let marinate 30 minutes to an hour.  In a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat, add remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil.  Once oil smokes, add chicken and sauce, then stir fry.  Once chicken is mostly cooked, add onions, scallions and remaining 1 tbsp of soy sauce, then continue to stir fry until everything is cooked.  Remove from heat.

While chicken is cooling, make sauce: mix 2 teaspoons brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon sriracha, 3 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar (can substitute apple cider vinegar) and 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire.  Taste and adjust to your preference.

To serve: Take one lettuce leaf half, fill with chicken mixture, drizzle with sauce and then top with crunchy noodles.  Eat like a taco!

Baked Crab Rangoon

1-6 oz. tin crab meat, drained
8 oz cream cheese (regular or reduced fat), softened
3 green onions, finely chopped
2 cloves finely minced garlic
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
black pepper
12 wonton wrappers

Mix together all ingredients but the wonton wrappers.  (You can chill the filling for up to 24 hours and continue with the recipe about 30 minutes before serving.)  Preheat oven to 350 F, grease a muffin tin (or use nonstick cooking spray), then line with wonton wrappers.  Bake wrappers for 5-10 minutes, until they begin to brown.  Remove muffin tin from oven, then fill par-baked wonton wraps with cream cheese-crab mixture.  Return filled rangoons to oven, then bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until filling is set and slightly browned.  Cool 5 minutes in muffin tins, then remove to cooling rack to prevent them from getting soggy.

Also, the filling makes an awesome dip!  For a party, you can cut the wonton wrappers into triangles, then fry to make them into chips.  Serve with cream cheese-crab mixture (either cold or warmed in the microwave/oven).

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