If you’ve been following me around these parts, I think you can roughly see that I prefer to cook vegetables as quickly as I possibly can just to retain crispness and freshness. Certain vegetables need braising in order to get sweet and soft but I never see lettuce, much less Boston, as one of those.
When I first saw recipes of braised lettuce, I kinda cringed and my toes curled up a little. To be fair, I’ve never tried them that way before. It might be really delicious. But for me, I somehow feel that such a delicate vegetable should be treated with as much tenderness as possible. Unlike napa cabbages, lettuce is so crisp. The leaves are almost wafer-like, filled with juices. To braise it would seem to take away from it’s tender crisp texture and draw out moisture from it’s leaves. I’m going to guess the entire French population might want to stone me for this. Ah well.
The way we always have lettuce, Chinese style, is to quickly stirfry it in a hot hot pan and pour a simple sauce over. This technique works for any kind of lettuce including Romaine (yao mak), Boston and Iceberg. Here’s how I usually do it:
To begin, we only need: Boston or Romaine Lettuce, Taucu (fermented bean paste), Garlic & Vegetable Oil
Boston Lettuce is pretty tightly packed up so I like to peel individual leaves off and and give them a rinse. I usually only buy hydroponic-grown lettuces, though I’m not sure why, and they always come with the root bits attached. Lots of dirt and stuff do get in and between the leaves. So wash wash! This is probably the only real work to be done.
First thing to do is to fry up some garlic slices. You can do it with mince but I kinda like how they look sliced.
These boys release a bit of moisture as they wilt. So to make use of that, I stirred in about 1 tbsp taucu paste (fermented bean paste) and brought that to a simmer. Oyster sauce is traditional for this so go ahead and use that. Even just plain soy sauce is good enough. in fact, I use a mixture of soy and oyster sauce most of the time.
I find that this is a great vegetable accompaniment to heavy meat dishes like stews and braises. It lightens the whole meal up. So do try this really really quick 10-minute vegetable dish the next time you need something green with minimal preparation and cooking time. The only catch: this is best eaten right after cooking as lettuce will continue to leech water as it cools. But I’m sure with something simple like this, you can easily whip it up moments before dinner and enjoy it right there and then.
“Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” (Hebrews 2:17)
Boston Lettuce with Taucu & Garlic
1 head Boston Lettuce, individual leaves peeled & cleaned
1 tbsp taucu paste (fermented bean paste)
3 cloves Garlic, sliced
2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
- Add sliced garlic into cold oil. Heat up oil on MEDIUM heat and fry garlic slices until golden. Be careful they don’t get burnt. Remove slices and set aside.
- Crank up heat to HIGH & add in lettuce leaves. Stir around quickly for about 1 minute. Leaves will turn bright green and wilt slightly. Dish up.
- Drop taucu paste into the pan juices and stir to thin down until it comes to a simmer, 10-15 seconds.
- Pour sauce over lettuce and scatter garlic slices over it.