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Home / Recipes / The 20-Minute Chicken Dinner That’s About to Become Your Favorite Weeknight Meal

The 20-Minute Chicken Dinner That’s About to Become Your Favorite Weeknight Meal

May 14, 2019

Loosely inspired by Thailand’s delicious dish larb gai, this simple weeknight stunner is easy to prepare and fast to get on the table. It’s carb-free, too, thanks to the crisp Romaine wraps swaddling a delicious mix of chicken, garlic, hot pepper flakes and cilantro.

Nothing in this ingredient list should prove daunting: Instead of hard-to-find fresh chiles, the recipe calls for Italian hot pepper flakes and hot pepper sauce such as Sriracha. The most unusual ingredient, in fact, is fish sauce, which you should have at the ready anyways. (It’s wonderful in coconut-based soups.)

Thai lettuce cups are, in fact, perhaps the ideal summer and late-spring appetizers to serve at a party, and you could serve them to the whole family for supper if you’re taking a break from carbohydrates. To make the meal stretch, consider easy steamed dumplings, rice noodle soup, or pad Thai.

For a hot summer day when you don’t want to consider anything remotely heavy, however, we’ll be reaching for these lettuce wraps, to scarf all on their own.

Chicken in Lettuce Cups


3 Tbs. hoisin sauce1 Tbs. rice vinegar1/2 tsp. hot pepper sauce such as Sriracha (optional)2 Tbs. peanut or canola oil2 garlic cloves1/4 to 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes1 1/2 lb. (750 g) ground chicken3 Tbs. Asian fish sauce2 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice1/3 cup (1/2 oz./15 g) loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped3 Tbs. pine nuts, toasted1 head romaine or iceberg lettuce


1. To make the sauce, in a small bowl, whisk together the hoisin, vinegar and hot sauce. Set aside.

2. In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saut just until the garlic is soft, about 1 minute. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally and using your spoon to break up any clumps, until the meat is cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes.

3. Stir in the fish sauce, soy sauce and lemon juice. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro and pine nuts.

4. To assemble, core and separate the lettuce head into individual leaves, using only the sturdy, cup-shaped leaves; reserve the flimsy or flat leaves for another use. Arrange 1 or 2 of the lettuce cups on each of 4 plates, or arrange smaller lettuce leaves on a platter for appetizers. Spoon the chicken mixture into each leaf. Drizzle with the sauce and serve immediately. Serves 4.

For more fresh ideas about how to prepare chicken, whether for a
quick family meal or an impressive weekend spread, check out our
Chicken Night: Dinner Solutions for Every Day of the Week.