Me and Barbara at an opening at Suky Werman's gallery
I love cooking with ginger. I love eating food flavored with gnger. I have several cookbooks with the word "ginger" in their title, bought primarily because of that. So imagine my delight when I was at Barbara Zheutlin and Jonathan Hankins' one night for dinner and she served the most amazing turkey dish!
She opened her copy of Nina Simonds' "A Spoonful of Ginger" so I could read the recipe after thoroughly enjoying every bite. It's a variant on Chicken Soong that I used to order every time we went to Shun Lee. The prinicple is chopped chicken or turkey (or even beef or pork) served in lettuce leaves. The cool lettuce leaves temper the heat from the ginger so the taste is utterly refreshing and delicious.
An added bonus to this dish is that children love it. They grin as they stuff the lettuce with the meat. I think they feel they're taking part in the cooking.
Saucy Ground Turkey Wrapped in Lettuce Leaves
1 ½ lb ground turkey
3 ½ T minced scallions, white part only
1 ½ T minced fresh ginger
1 T minced garlic
½ T toasted sesame oil
2 bunches Boston lettuce, rinsed, drained and stems trimmed
1 T canola or corn oil
2 c canned water chestnuts, blanched in boiling water for 10 seconds, refreshed in cold water and drained
3 c scallion greens cut into 1” sections
Spicy sauce (mix together)
5 T Chinese sweet bean paste or ground bean paste
2 T sugar
1 T toasted sesame oil
1 ½ t hot chile paste
Put the ground turkey I a bowl, add the seasoning, and mix together.
Lightly flatten the lettuce leaves with the flat side of a cleaver or knife and arrange in a basket or bowl for serving.
Heat a wok or a heavy skillet, add half the oil, and when hot, about 30 seconds, add turkey and stir-fry over med-high heat, mashing and breaking it up. Cook until it changes color and separates. Drain in a colander and wipe out the pan.
Reheat the pan, add the remaining ½ T oil, and when very hot add the water chestnuts and scallion greens, tossing them over high heat about 1 minute. Add premixed spicy sauce and stir, letting it thicken. Return the cooked turkey to the pan and toss to coat with sauce. Scoop the mixture onto a serving platter. To serve, pass the platter and basket of lettuce leaves; each diner spoons some of the cooked meat onto a lettuce leaf, rolls it up, and eats it.