Edited by Liv Wan.
Chinese people rarely eat raw vegetables. There are a couple recipes in Chinese cuisine that use raw lettuce leaves to wrap stir-fried prawns or mince. There are even a couple recipes that use raw vegetables including cucumber and spring onions, for example in Beijing roast duck wraps but as a general rule Chinese people enjoy “cooked” vegetables a lot more than raw vegetables.
Apart from this easy stir-fry lettuce dish, in Cantonese cuisine there is a dish that is very popular called Stir-fried lettuce with Oyster Sauce. Some people also call it “Lettuce with Oyster Sauce” and in Chinese it’s translated to “蠔油生菜”. Whatever you call it, it’s an extremely delicious dish.
For this recipe, you can use oyster sauce instead of light soy sauce and add ½ a tablespoon of water and it’s similar but equally delicious.
Make sure all of the ingredients and seasonings are ready before cooking! I will wash and drain the iceberg lettuce around 30 minutes before cooking so it will dry properly before cooking.
Please have a look at the article “Chinese Stir-fry Tips” before you start cooking if you’re a newcomer to Chinese cooking or stir-fry techniques.
Iceberg lettuce has high levels of water content and is very low in calories so it’s very good for weight loss. It also contains high levels of Vitamin A which is good for the health of your eyes, bones and immune system.
This stir-fry lettuce recipe shows you how to cook lettuce in Chinese cooking. This Stir-fry lettuce is also a great side dish for Chinese New Year, as lettuce is considered to be a “lucky” food. Serves 4-6 people.
- 1 head iceberg lettuce
- 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
- 3/4 teaspoon sugar (granulated)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable (or peanut oil)
- 2 garlic cloves (peeled and minced)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger (minced)
- Optional: 1/8–1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil (such as Kadoya)
- Wash the lettuce, drain and separate the leaves. It’s important to make sure the lettuce is dry. Cut across the leaves into pieces about 1 inch wide.
- Combine the rice wine or dry sherry, soy sauce and sugar in a small bowl, stirring. Set aside.
- Heat the wok with oil on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes, stir-fry until aromatic (this will take 5-10 seconds.) and add the lettuce.
- Stir-fry the lettuce, sprinkling with the salt, for 1-2 minutes, until the leaves begin to wilt.
- Give the sauce a quick re-stir and swirl it into the wok. Stir-fry for 1-2 more minutes, until the lettuce turns dark green. Remove from the heat and stir in the sesame oil. Serve immediately.