After making the Chinese chicken salad, I had some iceberg lettuce left. My husband wanted to serve it as a classic American wedge salad with blue cheese dressing. I told him that I wanted to serve it as lettuce cups for a stir-fried mixture of chicken and tofu. I won when I reminded him that the Chinese lettuce cups went well with drinks. Plus, we had a date with friends for a homemade happy hour last Friday and I needed a tasty food contribution.
Lettuce cups are a popular appetizer on Chinese menus and those that are Asian inspired. They can be fanciful and made with minced squab, aged ham and Chinese sausage. I like something more casual and less rich, though still tasty.
The rendition that I made last Friday combines hand-chopped boneless chicken thigh and super-firm tofu. I'll admit this: the idea for these lettuce cups came from the Yard House – a very mainstream restaurant chain built on lots of beers on tap and snack foods. When I went to the one in San Jose, I was pleasantly surprised to see tofu on the menu, as well as a selection of vegetarian food. After visiting a few times, the chicken and tofu lettuce cups were arguably the best thing on their menu.