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There is a time and place for a full meal, complete with a main course, sides, and a salad. For me, that time is not every single night. Instead, I opt for easy, carefree meals, that are healthy, but satisfying.
Enter these Korean-style chicken lettuce cups, which have two great selling points. First, these are assembled while eating, which is always fun. Second, the flavor of the Korean spices is not spicy, but instead so flavorful that you cannot wait for more.
Ground chicken is an ideal meat to soak in all of the flavors in this recipe. Plus, it’s super economical! Once cooked with the spices, the lettuce cups are assembled in large lettuce leaves, which is also an economical choice. The toppings are whatever you’re in the mood for, which makes these easy to fit anyone’s preferences.
The ingredients in these chicken lettuce cups
- Ground chicken is a cost-effective meat that’s easy to keep in the freezer. Choose an organic ground chicken so it has the most flavor.
- Gochujang is a Korean red chili paste. The flavor is chili-forward, but balances with sweetness and a little fermeneted funk. Sounds unique, but it’s terrific!
- Gochugaru is a Korean chili flake. The chilis are often sun-dried without the seeds and ground into a fine powder. To make sure this ingredient fits your spice level, you can find mild to hot varieties.
- Toasted sesame oil is a key component and the key word is toasted. When the sesame seeds are toasted before retieving the oil, the result is a full-tasting oil that carries a huge flavor impact, especially in this recipe.
- Soy sauce is both a seasoning and flavoring in one. The sauce is fermented and has a good, salty kick, but also a depth of flavor that’s essential.
- Honey helps balance out the stronger flavors with a bit of sweetness.
- Fresh ginger adds a brightness, much like citrus does in some recipes. Fresh ginger has a clean flavor, but much more impact than dried ginger.
- Garlic is warmed with the chicken and offsets the impact of the spices with a sweet and almost buttery flavor.
- Buttercrunch lettuce will provide the best leaves for these lettuce cups. Large romaine leaves can work, but do not have quite the same effect. Buttercrunch are sweet and tender and work perfectly.
The ingredients and steps to make this recipe are simple. Despite that, the flavors are complex, which means this is a winner. Whenever I make these for a meal by myself or serve them to friends, I’m always amazed at how easy they are but also how quickly they disappear!
Watch how to make these chicken lettuce cups
Korean-Style Chicken Lettuce Cups
- 1 tbsp neutral oil
- 1 lb ground chicken
- 2 tbsp Gochujang (Korean chili paste)
- 1 ½ tbsp Gochugaru (Korean chili flakes)
- 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 tsp grated ginger
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 onion diced
- 2 heads buttercrunch lettuce broken down into individual leaves
For the toppings
- 1 large carrot grated
- 4 large radish grated
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- ½ cup crushed salted peanuts
- chili sauce to taste
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low. Add the oil and sauté onions until soft, 5 minutes.1 tbsp neutral oil, 1 onion
- While the onions are cooking, in a large bowl combine the ground chicken, Gochujang, Gochugaru, sesame oil, soy sauce, honey, grated ginger, and garlic. Combine until evenly mixed.1 lb ground chicken, 2 tbsp Gochujang (Korean chili paste), 1 ½ tbsp Gochugaru (Korean chili flakes), 2 tsp toasted sesame oil, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp honey, 2 tsp grated ginger, 3 cloves garlic
- Once the onions are softened, add the chicken mixture to the onions. Cook the chicken and break up into small, bite-size pieces with a spatula. Continue cooking the chicken until it is evenly browned with no pink, 10-14 minutes. Once cooked, remove the skillet from the heat.
- Serve in lettuce cups, with grated carrot, grated radish, chopped cilantro, crushed peanuts, and chili sauce on top.2 heads buttercrunch lettuce, 1 large carrot, 4 large radish, ½ cup chopped cilantro, ½ cup crushed salted peanuts, chili sauce to taste