I read recently that Nigella Lawson was criticized heavily for putting lettuce in the oven. I see absolutely no reason why you can't cook lettuce, as the Chinese have been doing it for a very long time! They usually stir fry it and it is absolutely delicious. It was also one of my favorite dishes when I was young. My Mom usually made it when we ran out of any other fresh vegetables, but I was always happy to eat it. This is my Mom's recipe and she always used Iceberg Lettuce. I'm sure you could use Romaine as well, but I wouldn't use any other lettuce as the dish requires the Lettuce to stay somewhat crunchy as that texture is important. My mother used to tell me that this was like the Chinese version of Wilted Salad. It comes together in literally minutes as it is a super quick stir fry with a quick sauce tossed on at the end that is composed of a tiny bit of Sugar, Salt and White Pepper along with Tamari, Rice Wine and a bit of Sesame Oil - that's it. If you would like to make it a bit fancier, you can add some sliced garlic or some thin cut Scallions, but I've always been fond of the plainest version. With a little meat and a little rice, I'm always delighted to eat Stir Fried Lettuce. I think you may be surprised by this recipe!
Stir Fried Lettuce, Chinese Style
1/2 head of Iceberg Lettuce, cut into bite size pieces and rinsed
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1/4 teaspoon Sugar
1 pinch of Salt
Sprinkling of White Pepper
1 teaspoon Tamari
1 teaspoon Shaoshing Rice Wine
1/2 teaspoon toasted Sesame Oil
Mix together the Tamari, Rice Wine and Sesame Oil in a small bowl.
In a non-stick frying pan, heat the oil and add in the Iceberg Lettuce. Sprinkle with the Sugar, Salt and White Pepper while tossing the Lettuce. When it has just started to wilt and brown slightly on the outside of the leaves, pour the sauce over, toss to coat and remove to a serving plate. Serve immediately.
Five Element Analysis
Lettuce belongs to the Fire Element and the Rice Wine adds even more. The Tamari and Sesame Oil bring in the Water Element. The other seasonings add only a trace of their Elements so this dish is best served with some Rice that brings in the Metal Element and a main dish from the Wood Element - Chicken would be good for example and also a dish from the Earth Element, an Earthy food like Mushrooms would be good to create a balanced Five Element meal.