Minced Duck Wrapped in Lettuce

 

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This is my adaptation of a Cantonese classic. It is widely believed that the practice of wrapping foods in lettuce leaves in China originated in the province of Guangdong, home to a special lettuce quite like iceberg, called bor lei sang choi in Cantonese. The first two words translate as “glass, ” to indicate that light is visible through the leaves. Lettuce itself, or sang choy in Cantonese, is a recurring symbol of new life and growth, and it is hung over the entry door of houses in Guangdong on the Lunar New Year.

Over the years, this method of wrapping foods in lettuce has spread beyond the borders of Guangdong, and today, cooks elsewhere in China serve baby clams, minced squab, shrimp and diced mushrooms, and other foods this way. The traditional Cantonese recipe calls for minced squab. Here, I have used minced duck in its place.

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons Chicken Stock
  • tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
  • teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon white rice wine
  • teaspoons mung bean starch
  • teaspoons sugar
  • Pinch of white pepper
  • tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 4 fresh water chestnuts, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice
  • cup ¼-inch-dice celery
  • cup ¼-inch-dice bamboo shoots
  • ¼ cup ¼-inch-dice shallots
  • 6 dried black mushrooms, inches in diameter, soaked in hot water to cover for 30 minutes, drained, rinsed, squeezed dry, stems discarded, and caps cut into ¼-inch dice
  • 1 Baked Duck Breast, skinned and cut into ¼-inch dice
  • 8 leaves iceberg lettuce, cut into 5-inch rounds

Method

Deep-fry the noodles as directed, drain them well over a bowl, and then spread them in an even layer on a platter. Reserve.

To make the sauce: Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and reserve.

Heat a wok over high heat for 30 seconds. Add the peanut oil and, using a spatula, coat the wok with the oil. When a wisp of white smoke appears, add the ginger and stir briefly. Add the garlic and stir briefly. Add the water chestnuts, celery, bamboo shoots, shallots, and mushrooms and Stir-fry for 3 minutes, or until very hot. Add the duck meat, stir to mix well, and cook for 2 more minutes, or until well mixed. Make a well in the center of the mixture, stir the sauce, and pour it into the well. Stir and mix well for about 1½ minutes, or until the sauce thickens and the ingredients have a glistening coat.

Turn off the heat and ladle the filling atop the noodles. Place the lettuce rounds on a separate platter. Invite diners to serve themselves by scooping a heaping tablespoon of the duck filling onto a lettuce round, topping it with some of the fried rice noodles, and then folding the lettuce around the filling.

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