This Chinese version of tacos is a great do-it-yourself dish: The crisp lettuce acts as a wrapper for the moist chicken and the snappy noodles. Add whatever vegetables you like, as long as they are cut small. Place lettuce, hoisin, chicken and noodles on a platter and everyone can make their own.
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup vermicelli rice noodles
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp sherry
1 tsp cornstarch
1 lb (500 g) ground chicken
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup chopped onion
2 tsp chopped ginger
1/2 cup carrots, finely chopped
6 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked, stems removed, chopped
1/2 cup green peas
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp rice vinegar
1/4 tsp sugar
1/2 cup chopped Asian pear
1 head of iceberg lettuce, separated into leaves
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
Heat vegetable oil in wok or skillet on high heat. When a rice noodle is dropped in the oil and sizzles in 10 seconds the oil is hot enough. Add the noodles to the hot oil in small, broken up batches and cook each batch until the noodles are puffed up. Transfer to a serving platter.
Stir soy sauce with oyster sauce, sherry and cornstarch until smooth in large bowl. Add chicken and coat with marinade. Season with salt and pepper. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes.
Pour oil out of wok leaving just enough to coat the pan (about 2 tbsp). Add chicken and stir-fry until nearly cooked, breaking it up as it browns, about 3 minutes. Add onion, ginger, carrots, mushrooms and green peas and stir-fry until vegetables are softened and chicken is cooked, about 2 more minutes.
Add soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar and sugar. Cook 1 minute longer or until mixture is moist. Stir in Asian pear. Season to taste.
Pile hot mixture over noodles. As they hiss and pop, fold together with the chicken. The noodles will soften.
Trim lettuce leaves to look like cups.
To eat, spread hoisin on lettuce wrapper. Spoon in some chicken mixture and roll up.
Suggested Wine Pairings
I would sooner choose an aromatic white wine, such as pinot gris or riesling, for this fragrant dish. But red is the colour of money, and pinot noir, especially a jammy one from a New World region, could work reasonably well. A good example: Haywire pinot noir 2012 from British Columbia. It also happens to have been produced with a beautiful limited-edition red label. Aimed at British Columbia’s Asian community, it bears the symbols meaning “Good fortune in the Year of the Horse.” $24.90 at select retailers: okanagancrushpad.com. – Beppi Crosariol