Braised Lettuce

Braised Lettuce 1

Lettuce, in the west, is pretty much exclusively thought of as a salad vegetable and always eaten cold. In Chinese cookery, however, it most commonly appears cooked and, indeed, has, traditionally at least, never been eaten raw. It is a bit unfortunate, really, that we haven’t cottoned on to the idea of cooking our lettuce once in a while as the process actually brings out flavors that are often missed. Today, I am showing you a simple preparation illustrating a common sort of dish…

Braised Lettuce 2

The first step is to trim away any browned or wilted bits from your lettuce leaves and cut any very large leaves in half. Lettuce loses a lot of volume when wilted by cooking and about a quarter of a medium sized head per person is probably a good amount for service as a side-dish.

 

Braised Lettuce 3

Lettuce braised with oyster sauce is a very common preparation and I am using it here today. In this case, I have stirred a tablespoon of oyster sauce into 4 tablespoons of rice wine. You could, if you like, add cornstarch to some chicken stock (either with or without added oyster sauce) and use this as a sauce base instead. Today, I am also using some chopped garlic and scallion.

 

Braised Lettuce 4

To cook, heat a little oil in a pan over moderately high heat. If using scallion, or garlic, or both, then add them and sauté until you can smell the aroma.

 

Braised Lettuce 5

Now add your lettuce leaves and toss in the oil. After a few seconds, you will see that the green of the lettuce brightens prettily and becomes more vivid. At this point, you add your braising liquid.

 

Braised Lettuce 6

The steam from the liquid will quickly cause the lettuce to wilt. Toss and stir until all the pieces are softened and then transfer everything to a suitable serving platter immediately so that the bright color is preserved.

4 thoughts on “Braised Lettuce”

  1. Braised lettuce is well-known in classic French cooking; maybe not in other ‘western’ cooking as you say. It does provide an excellent alternative vegetable to accompany, eg, roast beef or chicken.

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