You know how sometimes, you develop “a taste” for something? For the last few months, I’ve been substituting ground beef with ground chicken or turkey, and I have to say… I’m hooked. Ground chicken tacos. Ground turkey chili. Chicken meatballs and turkey meatloaf. Mmm… so, so good.
Beyond really enjoying the taste and texture, I love that it’s lower in saturated fat, calories and cholesterol, and way easier on the waistline than ground beef. Plus, because of the naturally mild flavour, it absorbs spices and flavourings easily, so your dishes taste brighter and bolder with proper seasoning.
My love affair with ground chicken reached a whole new level this past May, when we dined at the Yak & Yeti Restaurant inside the Animal Kingdom of Walt Disney World. Situated at the base of Mt. Everest in the small town of Anandapur, Yak & Yeti offers Pan-Asian cuisine, including delicacies such as Prawn crisps, Seared Miso Salmon and Dim Sum Basket – or old standbys like Sweet and Sour Chicken or Pork.
If you’ve been to Disney World, you know that quick service restaurants can get old – quickly. There are only so many chicken fingers you can ingest! Hence, we made it a point on this visit to indulge in as many family restaurants as possible. Sitting down, taking a break, and enjoying a delicious, healthy meal as a family only complements your Disney experience, and I strongly suggest you budget for at least one dining adventure per trip. You won’t be disappointed!
At the Yak & Yeti, the Asian Lettuce Cups were highly recommended. Perfect! Being on my ground chicken kick, I was only too happy to enjoy what was described as “Minced chicken breast, chopped veggies, maple tamarind sauce, and crisp lettuce cups.” And OMG – were they ever delicious. With Indo-Chinese flavours and just the right amount of kick, the dish was meant to be shared as an appetizer, but I quickly converted it to my main course and swatted away curious hands. Mine, all mine! (Image courtesy of wdwinfo.com)
Upon returning home, I quickly scoured the Internet for a recipe; however, while searching “Yak & Yeti Lettuce Cups Recipe” yielded 923 results, not one offered a concrete ingredient list or method for how I could duplicate these wonders at home. So, I got creative, and created a mash-up of several recipes for Asian Lettuce Cups until I was certain all of the elements were covered. And this is what I came up with:
ASIAN LETTUCE CUPS
1 pound Maple Leaf Prime ground chicken breast
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Asian chili pepper sauce
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1 tablespoon unsalted peanuts, chopped
2 tablespoons sweet red pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts, drained, finely chopped
2 shitake mushrooms, finely chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced
16 iceberg lettuce leaves, washed and patted dry
shredded carrot and bean sprouts, for garnish
Okay, so it’s a lot of chopping. But it’s easy chopping; and then you just have to throw everything together and stir-fry it until done. And the method couldn’t be more simple: stir-fry the first 5 ingredients together until chicken has browned (about 6-8 minutes); add the second group of 5 ingredients until the sauce is bubbly (about 2 minutes); and finally, add the last set of 5 ingredients and heat through to allow flavours to mingle (about 5 minutes).
Then, dollop about two tablespoons of the ground chicken mixture onto a lettuce cup, and garnish with shredded carrot and/or bean sprouts, if desired. You can also grab a store-bought tamarind sauce for dipping, or find a recipe to make your own. Super easy, super healthy, and a chance to break up with ground beef! Enjoy!