Though the last few days have been tropical in New York; sunny, very hot and very humid; early summer has shown us nearly perfect growing conditions for lettuce: sunny, reasonably cool and plenty of rain. Hence, lettuce heads have grown to epic proportions and those of us with gardens or CSAs are eating salad with every meal. However, as there is only so much salad that even two greens-loving adults can get down, this savory, spicy-sweet stir-fried lettuce is a godsend.
Super quick & easy, this side dish pulls together in under 5 minutes (a brilliant plus for the 90-degree-90%-humidity days we’ve been sweating through lately) and an entire head of lettuce wilts down to the perfect serving for one person. Salty, sweet and spicy, aggressively seasoned and flavorful, you may soon find yourself wondering where all the lettuce went. Enjoy!
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp raw sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 small red fresh chile, sliced
- 2 firm heads lettuce, stems trimmed and chopped to 1-inch pieces
- In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and salt. Whisk to dissolve sugar.
- Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat until very hot. Swirl in oil; coat the pan. Add ginger and chile. Stir-fry for 10 seconds. Add lettuce; stir-fry for 1 minute, until just wilted. Whisk sauce one last time and swirl in around the edges of the pan: stir and cook for another minute or two until lettuce is tender and sauce thickens slightly. Serve immediately.
- Grace’s original version included garlic, but no ginger or chile. She also finishes with a drizzle of sesame oil.
- Firm lettuce, like romaine hearts or baby gem, works best, but any lettuce will do: use what you have on hand.
- I’ve used both peanut oil and neutral safflower oil to make this: peanut oil gives a more robust, Chinese flavor to the dish, while a neutral oil allows the ginger & chile to pop more. Either is nice: choose based on the dish you are pairing with.
- A sprinkle of toasted sesame or peanut seeds as garnish wouldn’t go amiss.
Best eaten fresh.
Spring through Fall.