Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Spicy Asian-Chicken-Salad Lettuce cups

Confession: I am addicted to the food rags. Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Cooking Light, Saveur, Cooks Illustrated, Food and Wine...I get them all. It makes my husband crazy, because he's always tripping over stacks of magazines, dog-eared with recipes I want to try. And I am slow about trying them, so the stack starts looking like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Eventually, he'll demand a "magazine purge," which means I actually have to take the time to rip out the recipes from the magazines. And then, of course, create another pile.

Some of the recipes actually get made, usually the ones that aren't overly fussy or complicated. Translation: I hardly ever make recipes from Food and Wine Magazine (the same used to apply to Gourmet magazine, but I think they're trying to reform...the recipes seem less hoity-toity lately).

I'm not sure why I even still get Food and Wine. Maybe I'm just compulsively afraid I'll miss out on that *one* recipe that will come along and rock my world if I cancel.

I was riffling through the latest pile of recipes (from magazines, I am ashamed to report, spanning from April-September) and came across one from, gasp, Food and Wine Magazine. It was so carelessly ripped that I couldn't even see which month's issue it was from, but it's a pretty summery recipe, so I'm sure it's fairly current.

This recipe was SO not typical Food and Wine fodder. It was incredibly simple, required no cooking and used, of all things, a rotisserie chicken from the deli. Mon Dieu! Sacrilege!

I know a lot of people are thinking Autumn right now, but it's still pretty warm here. The air conditioner is still churnin' at Chez T. I made the recipe on a steamy night and we just loved it.

Don't be put off by the "spicy" moniker in the title. It packs a bit of heat, but it's not overwhelming, and the avocado puts out any fire you'll feel. Promise.

And don't worry that it's, well, orange. It looks a little weird, but it's just the chile sauce talkin.' It may not be the most gorgeous chicken salad, but on a hot night, when you want something light, this will hit the spot.

Spicy Asian Chicken Salad Lettuce Cups
from Food and Wine Magazine

1/2 cup mayonnaise*
2 teaspoons sambal oelek or Chinese chile-garlic sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
One 2-pound rotisserie chicken--skin and bones discarded, meat pulled into bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup water chestnuts, coarsely chopped
2 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
12 Bibb or iceberg lettuce leaves
1 Hass avocado, peeled and cut into 12 slices
Lime wedges, for serving

In a medium bowl, mix the mayonnaise, sambal oelek, mustard and sesame oil. Stir in the chicken, water chestnuts and scallions and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the chicken salad into the lettuce cups and top with a slice of avocado. Serve with lime wedges.

*Hubby isn't a big mayo guy, so I only used about 1/4 cup. It wasn't super-creamy that way, but the avocado on top added a little moisture, and we found it just fine that way.

F&W suggests pairing with a slightly sweet white wine, such as Reisling such as 2008 Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley or an off-dry Pinot Gris such as 2007 Hula Vineyards from New Zealand. They know a heck of a lot more about wine than I do, so I'd believe them.


  1. These sound so quick and easy! Perfect for a weeknight dinner. A sweeter white wine is often paired with spicy Asian food as it can help balance the heat and not overwhelm the flavors. Yum!

  2. HAHAHA, I laughed out loud reading about your habit of hoarding magazines because I'm exactly the same way. I'm so bad I don't even want to rip the recipes out of them and just hide them so my boyfriend doesn't see them... my favorite is Cooking Light (by far!) and I love their new format. Food and Wine... not so much, I'm not sure I'll continue the subscription next year.
    Thanks for sharing this recipe, it's actually something one can make -unlike most of their recipes!

  3. You should see my piles and stacks and boxes of journals.

    They'd take your magazines on any day...

  4. i don't really like the new format of Cooking Light, in fact, i was thinking about writing a letter to the editor. And they keep adding more and more advertisements!! But it is my favorite recipe mag. I love Cooks Illustrated too, quite a bit

  5. I do the same thing with the foodie magazines. I kind of go in spurts though.

    This looks great, especially with the avocado! :P

  6. This sounds delicious.

    I am the same way with my mags. I just cleaned out my pool bag and I found 3 recipes I had ripped out from FOOD that I thought would be awesome for the summer. Yeeeaaaahhhhh....never made 'em. I once was waiting outside the girls' dance class last year and I watched as another mom went through her cooking mags, cut out the recipes, and then stuck them in a 3 ring binder within plastic sleeves CATEGORIZED. Made me want to puke. Why can't I be that organized?

  7. You know, food and wine usually has dessert recipes I'll try. Last spring there was some watermelon and mint, throw it in a blender and make ice cubes thing that I loved. Get over your baking fear and you'll find a ton in that ol' rag.
    And get desperate for vegetarian and you'll have at least one good recipe per issue from F&W.
    Ignore that 3-ring binder mom. You and I both know the useful recipes start at the bottom of one page, then finish 100 pages later, are impossible to keep together, and can't be properly categorized. Side dish or veggie? Dessert or main course? You should see that lady's medicine cabinet. She's a freak and her kids are gonna be anal. And wear makeup in the second grade.

  8. I am very guilty of magazine piles and torn pages spread all over the study floor. I am not even sure that there is a good organizing strategy for such things. Let me know if you find out.

    The salad sounds delicious. Just like I do with magazines, I collect chicken salad recipes. Glad I have another one. Thanks for sharing :)

  9. Oh! You wanna talk piles. You should see the stacks and stacks of paperback books in my house.

    This looks cool and refreshing as an aperative maybe. Geez I can't spell.

  10. Hmmm...I loving this idea of wrapping things in lettuce! So healthy and sounds rather refreshing too - I'm not sure about all the ingredients for over here in the UK but I'm sure I could improvise! xxx

  11. I just bought some leaves to make wraps of some kind. Hmmmm. Of course my plan was very vague and pretty lame, like "Maybe I'll put some turkey in one with mustard" so your recipe is extremely timely. Merci!

  12. Perfect...and no carb (in case I try a little harder)! Another great way to have chicken. I buy delicious grilled chicken strips at Costco for just this sort of yummy thing.

  13. I am the opposite - a pitch-er of magazines.

    And where on earth will I find sambal oelek?! I've never even heard of that one. Remember, I live in the sticks... we don't have all those new fangled spices out here.

  14. Kathy B.--does your grocery store have an "Asian section" in it? You can find it there, or substitute another Asian hot sauce like Sriracha...

    But if you don't, I think a good old hot wings sauce like Frank's Red Hot would work just fine :)

  15. That looks yummy and sounds easy - I like that :)