Although it may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of lettuce, stir-fried lettuce (Chao Sheng Cài in Mandarin or Chow Saung Choy in the Cantonese dialect) is surprisingly refreshing, simple to prepare and pairs well with any main course.
In addition, if you’ve had your fill of bunny salads, this is a great use for that head of lettuce you just can’t turn into a salad. There are times when a hot, stir-fried salad made with cooked lettuce is preferable to a cold salad, and this is a dish that the Chinese love.
You might be curious as to who would cook lettuce, how lettuce is cooked, and if the taste improves after being cooked. The high water content, fresh flavor, and crunchiness of romaine and iceberg lettuce make them both excellent options for this stir-fried lettuce dish.
Lettuce stir-fry is a common Cantonese dish found on menus around China.
I find iceberg lettuce the most delicious, crunchy, and refreshing type of stir-fried lettuce, and this recipe is the greatest way to prepare it. You’ll get a newfound respect for the lowly lettuce after trying this stir-fried lettuce recipe, which brings out the natural flavor of iceberg lettuce.
FOR THE PORK & MARINADE:
- 8 ounces of ground pork
- 2 tablespoons of water
- 2 tablespoons of minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon of Shaoxing wine
- 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon of dark soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon of cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
FOR THE REST OF THE DISH:
- 1 head of iceberg lettuce
- 1 slice of ginger (⅛-inch thick, smashed)
- 1 clove of chopped garlic
- 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons of soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon of sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ¼ teaspoon of sugar
- ground white pepper to taste
- To remove the core from the lettuce, smash it hard on the counter. (This is just one of the many tips and tricks I picked up throughout my time in the service sector.)
- It’s best to start by peeling away the lettuce’s outermost layer and throwing away any discolored or damaged leaves. Roughly 4- to 5-inch-long shreds of lettuce torn with your bare hands will do.
- To prepare the lettuce, put it in a large bowl and cover it with cold water. If you do this, your lettuce will be washed and rehydrated. The next step is to place the lettuce in a colander and fill it with cold water.
- Give the colander a vigorous spin to drain the lettuce. Since iceberg lettuce already has a high water content, it’s vital to drain any additional liquid before using it. If your stove and wok don’t produce enough high heat, a salad spinner is a great alternative.
- A tiny bowl of soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, salt, sugar, and white pepper.
- Put 2 tablespoons of oil and the fresh ginger slice into a hot wok and turn the heat to low. Before adding the ginger, make sure to smash it with the side of your knife to release its juices and taste. Be careful not to burn the ginger by letting the oil infuse for 15 seconds.
- Chopping garlic and turning the stove to high heat go together really well. So, throw in some iceberg lettuce right away. Combine all the ingredients and stir-fry them, using a scooping motion to ensure that the lettuce is evenly coated with oil. After 20 seconds, place the lettuce on a mound in the center of the wok so that the liquid can pool around it.
- Take advantage of the remaining 15 seconds without the cover by pouring the soy sauce mixture over the lettuce. It’s at this stage that the wok’s edges will begin to superheat. Try as you might, this may be difficult to accomplish with a regular stove burner.
- Spread the lettuce out on the wok and stir it in a circular motion all at once. You want that wok hei flavor, therefore you should let the lettuce and liquid sear on the wok’s edges. Once the wok is no longer on high heat, gather the lettuce in the center and repeat the procedure of heating the wok’s outside edges.
- With a second sear, your iceberg lettuce should be soft with wilted greens. Be careful not to overcook the lettuce if you’re making a stir-fry with it. Everything happens in the wok in about 2 minutes.