These Spicy Asian Lettuce Wraps are made with chicken, noodles, and a deliciously spicy sauce and are packed with flavor. They make for an easy weeknight dinner!
(This recipe for Spicy Asian Lettuce Wraps was originally published in November 2009, but was updated with new photos in 2019).
After too many nights of eating out, getting take-out, or just throwing together something super quick and easy (and not at all photo-worthy), the other night I was finally in the mood to look up a recipe, follow it, create it...and eat it. What a novel idea, right? I wasn't up for anything super heavy; just something satisfying. Of course, I went to Cooking Light's website first since I can always rely on them for quick and simple recipes... that are light. I found this recipe for Spicy Asian Lettuce Wraps and it not only sounded like it wouldn't take too long to make (I was HUNGRY), but it also sounded delicious. I turned on some jazz (Dave Brubeck!), listened to the rain falling outside, and spent some long overdue time in my kitchen. Pretty much straight out of a movie scene!
SPICY ASIAN LETTUCE WRAPS RECIPE
These lettuce wraps make for an incredibly easy weekday dinner that can be on the table in no time at all. You could even prep the chicken in advance, roasting it and dicing it on Sunday and then making these wraps after work on Monday. You could also purchase chicken that's already been roasted and simply dice it up. Once the chicken is cooked and diced, there's not much to do aside from prepping the bean threads and tossing everything together.
What are bean threads?
Once you're ready to make the spicy Asian lettuce wraps, you'll want to start by preparing your bean threads (AKA cellophane noodles). But wait, what the heck are bean threads, right?? Simply put, bean threads are noodles. But they're not the kind of noodles you're probably used to, made from grain flour. Instead, bean threads are made from ground mung beans. That may sound a bit weird, but I promise they're not. They're actually basically flavorless and take on the flavor of whatever sauce is on them. To prepare them, you just need to soak them in hot water to rehydrate them.
You can follow the package instructions, but if there aren't any, I recommend this method: Place the bean threads in a bowl and cover them with boiling water. Let sit for 15-20 minutes, until tender but not mushy. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain again.
Combine cilantro, soy sauce, chile paste, sesame oil, and ginger in a large bowl, be sure to mix well. The original recipe didn't call for ginger, but I knew it would add some complementary flavor and a nice warming aspect.
Add noodles and chicken to soy sauce mixture; toss well making sure to coat well with sauce mixture.
Spoon about ⅓ cup of the chicken mixture into the center of each lettuce leaf and roll up. This recipe makes enough for each person to have three lettuce wraps if you're serving a party of four people. If you're a party of one? Then by all means have 12. Just kidding, don't do that... Save some for lunch the next day!
I love all the different textures and flavors of these spicy Asian lettuce wraps; not to mention they're quite pretty. The cool crunch from the lettuce and the warm bites of chicken mixed in with a little spiciness from the chile paste is so comforting. Plus, the addition of the ginger was pretty brilliant, if I do say so, myself!
A glass of cold white wine goes so well with these lettuce wraps since it balances out the spice a bit. While I found these to be warming in the cold November weather, I think they'd also be a wonderful summer dish, enjoyed out on the deck with that cold glass of white wine!
Since lettuce wraps have the reputation for being a tad messy, for lunch the following day instead of making wraps, I roughly chopped the lettuce. And then I put the chopped lettuce and filling in the bowl for a little spicy lettuce wrap bowl. It worked beautifully. Kind of like a deconstructed lettuce wrap!
What's your favorite filling for lettuce wraps?
Spicy Asian Lettuce Wraps
- 2 ½ oz. bean threads (also known as cellophane noodles)
- ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
- ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp chile paste with garlic
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp minced fresh ginger
- 2 cups chopped roasted chicken breast
- 12 large Boston, butter, or romaine lettuce leaves
- Place bean threads in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 15-20 minutes, until tender, but not mushy. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain again.
- Combine cilantro, soy sauce, chile paste, sesame oil, and ginger in a large bowl and mix well.
- Add noodles and chicken to soy sauce mixture; toss well making sure to coat well with sauce mixture.
- Spoon about ⅓ cup of the chicken mixture down the center of each lettuce leaf and roll up.
- Recipe adapted from Cooking Light.