Stir-Fried Lettuce, A Healthy Cooked Lettuce Recipe – The Woks of Life
Chao Sheng Cài in Mandarin 炒生菜 or Chow Saung Choy in Cantonese dialect is not the first thing you jump at when you think of lettuce, but this cooked lettuce dish is refreshing, quick, easy to make, and goes with just about any dish you can think of in my opinion.
Whether you have beef Rendang, Chicken with forty and garlic or pork chops with salt and pepper for your main course, this sautéed lettuce is the perfect accompaniment.
Another Way to Use
Lettuce Besides Salad
Also, if you’re sick of chewing on rabbit salads, this is a great option for the lettuce head in your refrigerator that you can’t take with you to turn it into another salad. Sometimes a cooked lettuce or hot sautéed lettuce is much better than a cold salad and is definitely a Chinese preference.
You may wonder why someone would cook lettuce, how you cook lettuce, and whether cooked lettuce tastes good. Well, I have to report that both romaine lettuce and iceberg lettuce are great choices for this sautéed lettuce recipe due to its high water content, fresh and crunchy taste.
In fact, sautéed lettuce is a very popular Cantonese dish and is served in many restaurants in China
. Tasty, crunchy and refreshing, iceberg lettuce is my
favorite choice for sautéed lettuce, and this recipe, in my humble opinion, is the best way to cook it. This stir-fried lettuce recipe really brings out the true taste of iceberg lettuce, and after tasting it, you’ll have a new appreciation for humble lettuce!
Eating Lettuce During
Chinese New Year
Another fun fact is that lettuce is a very popular vegetable for Chinese New Year. Lettuce, whether sautéed or otherwise served, is a must-have ingredient in many Chinese homes for the Lunar New Year holidays.
The reason is that Sheng
Cài (Mandarin) 生菜 or Saung Choy (Cantonese) has the Chinese word Sheng 生 which when written and pronounced alone, means to live or implies life, which is good for starting any new lunar new year.
The Chinese word sheng also
means “to grow” and when combined with the word “lettuce”, sheng cai 生财 or increase wealth is obviously also auspicious. Regardless of how you see or hear it, this plate of stir-fried lettuce is a good, if not essential, candidate for a Chinese New Year vegetable dish.
lettuce: recipe instructions
Take the head of iceberg lettuce and stick it firmly on the counter firmly, with the side of the stem facing down to remove the core. (One of the first of many tricks I learned when I worked in the restaurant industry!) Here’s a quick video showing how it’s done:
Remove the first outer layer of lettuce and faded leaves and throw them away. Break the lettuce with your hands into large pieces of 4 to 5 inches.
Place the lettuce in a large bowl with very cold water and give it a good scramble. This washes the lettuce and rehydrates it. Next, drain the lettuce in a strainer and give it a good smoothie to remove excess water from the surface of the lettuce. Iceberg lettuce already contains a lot of water, so removing excess water is important, or you’ll end up with too much liquid. Feel free to use a salad spinner, which is a good idea if your stove and wok don’t generate enough high heat.
Combine soy sauce,
oyster sauce, sesame oil, salt, sugar, white pepper in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat your wok over low heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil and the slice of fresh ginger. Be sure to crush the ginger with the side of a knife to release the juices and flavors before adding it. Infuse the oil for 15 seconds, being careful not to burn the ginger.
Raise the heat to the highest level and add the chopped garlic. Then immediately add the iceberg lettuce. Sauté everything together, using a spoonful motion to coat the lettuce evenly with the oil. After about 20 seconds, gather the lettuce in the middle of the wok into a pile, so you can see the liquid accumulating around you in the wok.
Let cook uncovered for another 15 seconds, and while this happens, pour the soy sauce mixture over the lettuce. At this point, the sides of the wok will begin to overheat. This can be difficult to achieve on your average stove burner, but do your best!
Now, in one motion, stir the lettuce
in a circular motion while spreading the lettuce through the wok. The idea is to get the lettuce and scorching liquid along the sides of the wok to get that wok hei flavor. After the scorching has stopped, repeat the process of picking the lettuce in the middle of the wok again and let the sides of the wok warm up again.
After this second round of burning, your iceberg lettuce should be tender, with the green parts withered. Sautéed lettuce should be slightly crispy, so be sure not to overcook it. This whole process from start to finish takes less than 2 minutes in the wok.
Serve right away and trust me, you’ll be surprised how delicious a good sautéed iceberg
isn’t an obvious plant-based choice at first glance, but you’ll find it to be a refreshing vegetable dish to accompany any meat.