Introduction: Chinese Chicken Salad (No-wrap Lettuce Wraps)

About: Let's skip the pretentious titles. At present, I am a paper pusher. In the remainder of my life, I am a mother of two handsome grown men, a wife to a very patient man, a nana of two precious grandchildren, c…

Also known as Chicken Soong Salad.

Lettuce wraps are delicious, but very messy, and eating them usually ends up in using a fork to finish the mess. Why not start out and finish with a fork or chopsticks instead of your fingers, make salad.

A great salad any time of the year, and especially refreshing in summer.

In my quest to find a great recipe to make Lettuce Wraps at home, I tried many different recipes, only to be disappointed. Then I found this recipe in a great, old 1979 cookbook published by the editors of Sunset Magazine. It is a keeper.

Although an easy process, it can be tedious, though for people like me who enjoy such tiny bites, creating this dish is a stress reliever.


Be certain to read the recipe and instructions prior to preparation to avoid any mistakes.


8 medium sized dry mushrooms, or fresh mushrooms

1 teaspoon of cornstarch

2 teaspoons of dry sherry

2 teaspoons of water

1 teaspoon of soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt

Dash of white pepper


1 1/2 pounds of chicken breasts, skinned and boned, diced or minced

5 tablespoons of cooking oil, divided

Cooking sauce: (further mention in step #5)

1 teaspoon of soy sauce
1 Tablespoon of dry sherry

2 Tablespoons of oyster sauce

2 Tablespoons of water

1 teaspoon of sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon of sugar

2 teaspoons of corn starch


1 teaspoon of freshly peeled ginger, minced

2 or 3 cloves of garlic - minced

2 green onions - mince the white part only

1 (8 oz) can of bamboo shoots - minced

1 (8 oz) can of water chestnuts - minced

2 carrots, peeled and diced or minced, if desired

Hoisin sauce, if desired, for garnish

Dried rice noodles, if desired, for garnish

Maifun rice sticks, if desired, for garnish. These make the dish beautiful!


Lettuce - while just about any lettuce will be just fine, you may wish to use something other than fine baby greens, as the heat from the chicken mixture will quickly wilt softer lettuce types.

Step 2: Gather Your Ingredients...

Certainly, fresh water chestnuts would be wonderful, but they are sometimes tricky to find unless you have access to an Asian market that keeps them in stock.

While hoisin sauce is not necessary, some people enjoy it, and spread it on lettuce leaves prior to adding chicken mixture. If you are preparing a bed of lettuce instead of making wraps, you can just drop a few dollops of hoisin on your plate.

Variances in the recipe with regard to ingredients are perfectly acceptable. Use carrots. Don't use carrots.

Add more chicken, less chicken. It is up to you. Be creative and have fun with it, but keep the sauces and other ingredients the same, for the most part.

Sesame oil need not be plain, use a spicy variety if you wish.

Step 3: Equipment - Necessary, Useful, and Otherwise Handy...

Wok - Though a frying pan will work just fine, a wok is the preferred cooking vessel for such dishes. Make certain the pan is able to withstand high heat.

Sharp knife for dicing, slicing, mincing and such.

Measuring containers such as spoons and cups.

Nicer Dicer - See step #7

Potato or vegetable peeler - or, if you prefer, a knife to peel the ginger

Bowls, mixing utensils, etc.

Step 4: Mis En Place...

There are a few things to do ahead of time that will make this dish a snap to make. Having all of your ingredients gathered will eliminate accidental omissions and duplications, not to mention a giant mess in your kitchen.

'Mise en place' is a term for 'put in place', a process I use frequently when cooking. Life is so much easier this way.

Here is a list of things for your new habit - MISE EN PLACE:

If using dehydrated (dried) mushrooms, place them in a small bowl and cover with warm water for 30 minutes. Cut off and discard the stems, squeeze dry and set aside. If using fresh mushrooms, you can include the stem if you desire. I do.

Rinse and refrigerate the lettuce of your choice.

Peel and mince the ginger root

Open cans of bamboo shoots and water chestnuts, drain, and dice.

Peel and mince garlic

Prepare cooking sauce - see step # 5

Wash, trim, and dice green onions

Wash, peel, and dice carrots (if using)

Measure out 5 tablespoons of salad / cooking oil. You will use 1 teaspoon for the chicken marinade, 3 tablespoons for cooking chicken, and the remainder for sauteing the vegetables.

Step 5: Prepare Cooking Sauce, Set Aside...

This sauce is different than the marinade used for the chicken.

In a small bowl, combine the following:

  • 1 teaspoon of soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon of dry sherry
  • 2 Tablespoons of oyster sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons of water
  • 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of corn starch

Step 6: Create Marinade, and Soak the Chicken...

In a bowl large enough to hold 1 1/2 pounds of chicken and a bit of liquid, combine the following:

1 teaspoon of cornstarch

2 teaspoons of water

2 teaspoons of dry sherry
(don't fret and run to the liquor store if you don't have any, just toss in what you have. I used Chianti)

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon of salt

dash of white pepper - 1/16 of a teaspoon

Stir the liquid mixture well, and add the chicken. Coat well, then add 1 teaspoon of oil.

Allow to stand for 15 minutes while you prep other ingredients.

It is not necessary to chop the chicken into tiny pieces prior to cooking, if you have one of the handy gadgets shown above. The image was borrowed from my lasagna Instructable, so just overlook that it is in fact beef that is being chop-stirred, and not chicken.

You need one.

You want one.

And you know it.

It is called a Chop Stir, and worth every penny of the $4.00-$8.00 price range.

I bought mine before they became popular, so I'm from the four dollar group.

Not braggin'. Just sayin'. Get one.

Step 7: Nicely Diced...

Not needed, but one of the culinary loves of my life.
Rarely is a meal cooked in our home without the aid of this fabulous gadget.

Lately, I've noticed a cheaper version of them being sold in most box stores. Though the store model doesn't feature the teeny tiny squares of my Genius Nicer Dicer, it sure helps. If you decide to buy one, shop around.

There are cheap models, and some are expensive. Some come with many gadgets and pieces, some do not.

Make sure you get a set that includes the tiny 1/4" dicing blade. Trust me on this.

There is another gadget I dearly love, called the Mini Nicer Dicer. It is much smaller, and super handy for small projects like mincing onions, garlic, jalapenos and such. Take note, that it will take a little getting used to, such as knowing when to place the veggies in shiny side up, or shiny side down. It makes a big difference in the results.

Shop around, don't pay too much for these tools, as they are widely available.

Step 8: Cook the Chicken...

After the chicken has marinated, add 3 Tablespoons of oil to a hot wok. Add chicken, and stir-fry for approximately three to four minutes. Remove chicken from wok, set chicken aside. Use a Chop-Stir tool to mince the chicken into tiny pieces.

Step 9: Cook the Veggies, Return Chicken to Pan...

In the same wok used to cook the chicken, add the remaining vegetable oil to the pan.

When the oil begins to heat, add the garlic, green onions, ginger, and diced carrots.

Stir gently, then add mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts. Stir-fry for 2 minutes.

Return the cooked chicken to the wok.

Step 10: Add Cooking Sauce, Bring to a Bubble, and Allow to Thicken...

Add the cooking sauce created in step # 5.

Cook until sauce thickens and bubbles, stirring occasionally, but don't let it get too hot.

Remove wok from heat source.

Step 11: Spread on a Bed of Lettuce, Then Garnish, and Serve!

Pick out a fancy plate, and spread a bit of chopped lettuce in a circle on the plate.

Add a large spoonful or two of the chicken mixture to the top of the lettuce.

Top with additional green onions, if desired, or sprinkle crunchy rice noodles on top.

Serve with a smile, and wait for your guests to make sounds of approval.

If you have chopsticks handy, by all means, add them to the plate for a bit of flair, even if you end up using a fork, like me.

Bon apetit!

Step 12: P.S. How to Use Chopsticks

Just for fun, I thought I would include mention of a few other chopstick tutorials from other Instructables members. Have fun!

How to use chop sticks by amalkhan

How to use chopsticks by alanmon

How to Use Chopsticks by selenanicole

How To Make Chopsticks Easier To Use by ! xD !

How to Eat with Chopsticks by candel71

How To Eat With Chopsticks by naruto the ninja13

If your Instructable isn't listed, just send me a message, and I'll gladly add it.

I'll be adding more as time allows.