P.F. Chang's China Bistro, Inc.'s 40-plus restaurant chain, operating in 19 states, owes much of its success to founder Paul Fleming's unique idea of pairing oriental cuisine with American-style service. At the outset, when he opened the first of the restaurants in Scottsdale, Arizona, Fleming broke with the traditional Chinese restaurant format. With his collaborator, chef Philip Chiang, he devised a comparatively limited menu that featured far fewer dishes than the menus of typical, full-service, Chinese restaurants. Incorporating an American steak house dining style and a formidable selection of wines and cheeses, P.F. Chang's offers such additional oriental restaurant anomalies as espresso and cappuccino. Although P.F. Chang's China Bistros are stylish in decor, displaying motifs from the Ming and T'ang Dynasties and hand-painted murals, the dishes are moderately priced, partly because one of Fleming's aims was to provide high quality but affordable Chinese food for "the masses."




Lettuce Wraps

P.F.Chang's China Bistro Copycat Recipe

Serves 2

Special Sauce:
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/8 teaspoon chili oil
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Chinese hot mustard paste (see notes)
1 to 3 teaspoons chili garlic sauce

Stir Fry Sauce:
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large skinless chicken breast filet
1 (8 oz) can water chestnuts, drained and minced
1 (6 oz) can diced straw mushrooms, drained and minced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons chopped green onion
1 to 1 1/2 cups fried maifun rice sticks (see notes )
4 to 5 iceberg lettuce cups

Make the special sauce (for spooning over your lettuce wraps) by dissolving the sugar in the water in a small bowl. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, and chili oil. Add the chopped green onion and set the sauce aside until you're ready to serve the lettuce wraps. Eventually you will add Chinese mustard and garlic chili sauce to this special sauce mixture.

Prepare the stir fry sauce by mixing all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.

To make the filling: Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a large saute pan or wok over
high heat. Saute the chicken breast for 4 to 5 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan to cool. Wipe out the pan. As the chicken cools, chop your water chestnuts and mushrooms into pieces that are about the size of small peas. If you haven't fried the maifun rice sticks, this is a good time to do that. When you can handle the chicken, break it up with a sharp knife so that no piece is bigger than a dime. With the pan or wok back on high heat, add the 3 remaining tablespoons of oil. When the oil is hot, add the chicken, water chestnuts, mushrooms, and garlic to the pan. Cook the mixture for 2 minutes, stirring often.

Add the stir fry sauce to the pan and saute the mixture for a couple more minutes, then stir in the green onions and spoon everything out onto a bed of fried maifun rice noodles on a serving dish. Serve the chicken with a side of lettuce cups. Make these lettuce cups by slicing the top off of a head of iceberg lettuce right through the middle of the head. Pull your lettuce cups off of the outside of this slice.

Prepare the special sauce at the table by adding your desired measurement of hot mustard and chili sauce to the special sauce blend: 1 teaspoon of chili garlic sauce for mild, 1/2 teaspoon of mustard paste plus 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce for medium, and 1 teaspoon of mustard paste and 3 teaspoons of chili garlic sauce for hot. Stir well.

Assembly:  Assemble each lettuce wrap by spooning the filling into a lettuce cup, adding special sauce over the top and eating it like a taco.

Notes: Follow the directions on the package for frying the maifun rice sticks -- usually by pouring 2 inches of vegetable oil into a pan and heating it to around 400 degrees. Add the maifun, and when it floats to the top remove it to a paper towel.

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