Have you ever tried cooked lettuce?
You’re probably thinking, no way, it’ll be like when the lettuce leaf on a hamburger gets all warm and limp. Yeah, I don’t like that on my burger either. But what I’m talking about is cooking lettuce on purpose. Stir frying lettuce Chinese style.
While the cooking brings out the sweetness, the lettuce ribs retains some of its crispness. In Chinese cooking, there’s hardly any food that’s raw.
I have to admit as a kid I thought it was strange when my mom cooked up lettuce but it’s actually quite good. Back then, only iceberg lettuce from the supermarket was available. Nowadays, I use romaine from the farmer’s market.
I usually make it one of two ways, either with fermented bean curd (Chinese cheese) or a simple sauce. Either method is super quick and easy. And if you have a lot of lettuce that needs to be eaten up, it’s a great way to go as it cooks down quite a bit.
1 medium head romaine lettuce
1/2 teaspoon oil
1 green garlic or garlic clove, minced
1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon tamari or soy sauce
1 teaspoon oil
1 teaspoon rice wine
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Cut the lettuce into approximately 2-inch lengths. In a small bowl, combine the sauce ingredients and set aside.
Heat a wok on high, when hot, add the oil and swirl to coat the wok. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for a few seconds. Add the lettuce and cook until it begins to wilt about a minute or so. Stir in the sauce and salt to taste and continue cooking for another 30 seconds until the leaves are just wilted. Serve immediately.
Fermented Bean Curd Variation
1 to 2 cubes fermented bean curd
1/2 teaspoon oil
In a small bowl, mash the fermented bean curd cubes in a bit of water and set aside.
Heat a wok on high, when hot, add the oil and swirl to coat the wok. Add the lettuce and cook until it begins to wilt about a minute or so, then add the fermented bean curd water mixture, stir to mix thoroughly and cook for another 30 seconds until the leaves are just wilted. Serve immediately.