This week marks Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year, and I couldn’t be more excited to celebrate with food. My top pick? These crispy tangerine chili chik’un lettuce wraps! Unlike most holiday feasts, this one isn’t just about indulging. It’s also about eating food that brings good fortune. Many of the foods served at a Chinese New Year gathering are rich in symbolism and meaning. Sadly, they’re also far from vegan and vegetarian friendly. So I was inspired to bring the meatless eaters good luck by creating these crispy tangerine chili chik’un lettuce wraps!
I adore lettuce wraps because they’re so light, crisp, and flavorful. You can eat as many of these as your stomach agrees to without feeling super bloated or heavy afterwards. I also prefer boston leaf lettuce because it’s perfectly shaped for being stuffed, held, and chomped!
Not only are these chili chik’un lettuce wraps delicious, they have meaning behind them, too! Tangerines represent wealth and good luck, lettuce represents fortune, and eating long noodles will bring health and a long life. Sounds like a good combination to me! You can eat these wraps all year round of course, but they’re an especially delish way to celebrate Chinese New Year. Whether or not you celebrate it, though, these crispy tangerine chili chik’un lettuce wraps will bring a smile to your face! Keep scrolling to get the recipe.
crispy tangerine chili chik'un lettuce wraps
I love crunchy lettuce wraps! These are filled with crispy tangerine chili chik'un and a flavorful base of noodles and shitakes.
tangerine chili dipping sauce
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes
- 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
- 1/4 tsp tangerine zest
- 1/2 C tangerine juice (about 2 tangerines)
- 1/4 C rice vinegar
- 1/2 C water
- 1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 4 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 1/2 tsp water
shitake scallion noodles
- 100 g lo mein wheat noodles
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 2 C sliced shitake mushrooms
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1/2 C roughly chopped water chestnuts (from a can, drained and rinsed)
- 1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 1 1/2 C meatless chicken strips or pieces (unbreaded), thawed, if from frozen
- 1/2 C rice flour
- 1 C ginger ale or club soda
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 2 C vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 head boston lettuce
To make the sauce, heat a saucepan over medium-low, and fry minced garlic, chili flakes, and ginger in oil for 2 minutes until soft and fragrant. Be sure not to burn the garlic.
Whisk in tangerine zest, tangerine juice, rice vinegar, 1/2 cup of water, low-sodium soy sauce/tamari, sugar, and sea salt and bring heat back up to medium-high to get the mixture to a boil.
Once boiling, continue to whisk the sauce frequently for 15 minutes until it reduces by about half.
In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water until the cornstarch is dissolved. Whisk the cornstarch and water mixture into the sauce. Bring the heat down to medium low, but still bubbling. Continue whisking for another 3 minutes until thickened. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil with 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt. Once at a rolling boil, place the noodles in the pot and cook for 3 minutes or until al dente, stirring once or twice so the noodles don’t stick together. Drain, but do not rinse, and set aside.
Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and fry shitake mushrooms, water chestnuts, and most of the green onion including the white parts (leaving some green from the top for a garnish) for 5 minutes.
Add in soy sauce/tamari, another tablespoon of sesame oil, and noodles into the pan. Toss to coat evenly and fry for another 3 to 4 minutes. Place a lid on this pan, remove from the heat, and set aside while you fry the vegan chicken pieces.
Heat frying oil in a deep heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat with a deep frying thermometer attached, to 350°F to 360°F. It should take about 8 to 10 minutes to get hot.
Only when the oil has reached its frying temperature should you mix the batter. In a mixing bowl combine rice flour, ginger ale or soda, sea salt and paprika and stir with a fork. Don’t over mix as you want a lot of the carbonation to remain in the batter.
Separate the vegan chicken pieces with your fingers and submerge them in the batter to coat. Fry about 4 to 5 pieces at a time depending on the size of your saucepan (don’t over crowd) for 2 to 3 minutes until golden and crispy.
Remove the pieces from the oil using a slotted deep fryer spoon to allow the excess oil to drip off and set aside on top of paper towel. Continue this until all the pieces are fried.
Remove the boston lettuce leaves from the stem and delicately wash and pat dry.
Assemble the wraps with the noodle mixture on the bottom, a couple of crispy vegan chicken strips on top, and extra green onion as garnish.
Drizzle tangerine chili sauce over top or individually portion out the sauce for dipping.