One of my favorite Chinese vegetables is celtuce, sometimes referred to as asparagus lettuce or Chinese lettuce. Though it is not very common in the United States, it really should be. It is packed with vitamins and niacin, has a mild nutty asparagus like flavor, and a wonderfully crunchy texture. It is also remarkably versatile and can be used in all kinds of preparations. The feathery leaves at the top can be used in salads, the stem can be grated for salad, stir fried, or even used in soups. It is also super easy to prepare. Though you won’t find it in a regular grocery store, most large Asian supermarkets like H-mart carry it when it is in season. I especially like to stir fry it with garlic, ginger, and sichuan pepper corns. This preparation only takes a few minutes and it is a perfect weeknight dinner when paired with a bowl of rice. Who can resist fluffy white rice covered with jade batons of crunchy, garlicky goodness?
Stir Fried Celtuce
2 stalks of Chinese lettuce
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 inch piece of ginger, cut into small slivers
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
1 TB cooking oil
- Trim stalks of Chinese lettuce. You need to trim the skin and fibers outer layer. I like to use a vegetable peeler, though you can also use a paring knife. Just make sure that you get all the woody layers off. Once you reach smooth green flesh, you know you have gone far enough.
- Cut Chinese lettuce into 1-2 inch pieces. You want them small enough to easily be picked up by chop sticks.
- Heat some water until it boils and briefly parboil the Chinese lettuce. This should only take a minute. Remove the lettuce and refresh with cold water and drain.
- Heat the oil until it starts to shimmer and briefly fry the garlic and ginger and toast the peppercorns. Be careful not to burn the garlic. You just want to heat the garlic enough to release it’s aroma. Don’t let it brown.
- Toss in the lettuce and briefly stir fry for 1-2 minutes and serve. It couldn’t be easier!