STIR-FRIED CELTUCE WITH WOOD EAR MUSHROOMS
This Stir-Fried Celtuce with Wood Ear Mushrooms recipe may look simple, but it’s one of the most fulfilling vegetable stir-fries you can cook. In addition, it’s a refreshing break from the usual garlicky stir-fry of greens.
JUST LIKE THE RESTAURANT!
The stir-fried celtuce is one of my go-to dishes whenever we visit our favorite Chinese restaurant.
As surprising as it may seem, even a family of Chinese cuisine bloggers occasionally stops by their neighborhood Chinese restaurant for a meal.
In the restaurant’s kitchen, everything is cooked to perfection and topped with the lightest, clearest, gleaming sauces, just right for a dish of white rice. There’s something about the simplified home-cooked version of celtuce that never did it credit.
After researching this meal in detail on our most recent restaurant visit (now a nostalgic memory), we’ve discovered a few critical elements to make it well:
- There should be no browning of anything! Also, pay attention to how long the garlic takes to cook. Because it isn’t typical of the recipe, the ginger and chili peppers are softly sautéed first before the garlic is added.
- Crisp, barely cooked celtuce is the ideal texture for this dish. It has a more vibrant flavor and a smoother texture. Vegetables that are wet are disgusting.
- The secret is in the sauce. Shaoxing wine, chicken stock, and a dash of salt and sugar flavor the cornstarch slurry. When it comes to adding MSG, I wouldn’t tell you either.
At its finest, this is home-style cuisine done in a restaurant setting.
WHAT IS CELTUCE?
Celtuce (wōsǔn) is a variety of lettuce produced primarily for the strong stems on its leaves.
At first glance, the word appears to have a sleazy connotation Anyone who has grown lettuce at home only to have the plants grow far taller than a typical head of lettuce with leaves coming out of the sides knows what I’m referring to.
You can even see where the leaves were pulled off around the stem when you buy these long, conical vegetables at the supermarket. In Chinese supermarkets, you may get a broad selection of spring and summer vegetables, including this one.
The best specimens to look for are those that are still brilliant green (and not yellowing) with few or no brown patches. Some brown patches where the leaves were removed are fine, as you’ll peel them before cooking.
What’s the best way to prepare celtuce? One of our family’s favorites is prepared this way, and I enjoy it as well. Pork with Garlic Sauce (yuxiang rousi) is another dish in which you can experiment with this ingredient:
- 10 dried wood ear mushrooms
- 4 thin slices of ginger
- 3 cloves of thinly sliced garlic
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons of cornstarch (dissolved in 1 tbsp of water)
- 1 large celtuce stem
- 1-3 dried chili peppers
- 1 tablespoon of Shaoxing wine
- 1/2 red bell pepper
- 1/3 cup of vegetable/chicken stock, or water
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of sugar
- The first step is to rehydrate the wood ears by soaking them in warm water for a few minutes (this should take about 30 minutes). This can be done ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator. Then, after they’ve been thoroughly rehydrated, cut them in half or thirds and rinse them again.
- Remove the celtuce’s rough outer skin with a paring knife or peeler, then cut it into 1/8-inch-thick rounds on the diagonal. The peppers should be seeded and sliced into small pieces.
- One and one-fourth cups of chicken stock should be combined with one and one-fourth teaspoons of salt, sugar, and Shaoxing wine, according to the package directions. Set aside for later.
- The wok should be heated to a high temperature. It’s time to add 2 teaspoons of oil around the perimeter when it’s starting to go smokey. Stir in the ginger and cook for 15-30 seconds, until fragrant. Cook for a further few seconds after adding the dried chili peppers.
- Then, add the fresh peppers in pieces. A quick 30-second stir-fry should do the trick. Add wood ears to the hat. Cook for approximately one minute after tossing. Except for the ginger, which can get a slight golden color, nothing else should be brown.
- Then, add the garlic and celtuce to the mix.. For a minute and a half, stir-fry. Stir in the stock mixture that has been pre-mixed before adding the rest of the ingredients. As long as you enjoy a little crunch to your celtuce and wood ears at this time, they’re ready to eat.
- Make sure the cornstarch slurry is thoroughly blended before adding it to the sauce, and whisk continually as you pour it in. Toss the vegetables with the sauce after it has thickened. 30 seconds should be enough time. Now it’s time to eat!