Stir-Fried Lettuce

Stir-Fry Lettuce

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Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Total: 15 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
79 Calories
6g Fat
6g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 79
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 460mg 20%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 4mg 22%
Calcium 28mg 2%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 214mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

It is rare in Chinese cuisine to serve raw vegetables; the salads we're used to seeing in the Western world are not what you'd have for lunch nor what you'd serve on the side. Cucumbers and spring onions are used raw, and some crunchy lettuce is used for wrapping stir-fried prawns or mince, but as a general rule, Chinese people enjoy cooked and warm vegetables over raw.

Most people wouldn't think of iceberg lettuce as a vegetable for stir-frying, but its crunchy texture when raw, yields a wonderfully cooked vegetable. Because they're porous enough, the leaves will take on any flavoring or sauce you might use. Iceberg lettuce has high levels of water content and is very low in calories, but also provides moderate amounts of vitamins A, C, and K and folate. Considered a "lucky" food, this iceberg preparation is commonly served during Chinese New Year.

There are a few versions of stir-fried lettuce, some using oyster sauce and some soy, but no matter the additions, fried lettuce is a great side dish for rice, fish, beef, or pork. Seasoned with soy, rice wine, sesame, ginger, and garlic, this quick dish can be made gluten-free by simply swapping the soy sauce for tamari. Be sure to wash the lettuce with enough time for it to be completely dry before it's time for cooking as wet lettuce placed on a hot wok with oil can cause splatter and minor burns on your arms. It also can ignite the gas stove and produce a bigger and more dangerous flame.

Ingredients

  • 1 head iceberg lettuce

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine

  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce

  • 3/4 teaspoon granulated sugar

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or peanut oil)

  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger (minced)

  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Wash the lettuce, separating each leaf from the core. Dry well with a clean kitchen towel or paper towel.

  3. Without removing hard stems, cut the leaves across into pieces of about 1 inch wide. Set aside.

  4. Combine the rice wine or dry sherry, soy sauce, and sugar in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.

  5. Heat the oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes and stir-fry until aromatic, or about 5 to 10 seconds. Start with 1/8 of a teaspoon of the red pepper flakes.

  6. Add the chopped lettuce into the wok.

  7. Stir-fry the lettuce for 1 to 2 minutes, until the leaves begin to wilt. Sprinkle it with salt.

  8. Give the previously prepared sauce a quick re-stir and swirl it into the wok. Stir-fry for 1 to 2 more minutes, until the lettuce becomes dark green in color. Taste and adjust the seasonings, add the remaining 1/8 of a teaspoon of the red pepper flakes if desired, or a splash of soy sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in the sesame oil. Serve immediately. 

  9. Enjoy!

Other Lettuces and Leafy Greens

This recipe works beautifully with iceberg lettuce, but other types of lettuce and leafy greens can be prepared and stir-fried in the same exact way. Any lettuce you have at hand will do, but go for firmer leaves like kale, endives, radicchio, leaf lettuce, Batavia, or romaine. Avoid the super-soft lettuces like bib or Boston.

Mustard and collard greens can also be prepared following this stir-fry recipe, but do add an extra pinch of sugar to counter-balance their bitterness.

Article Sources
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  1. Iceberg Lettuce. FoodData Central. United Stated Department of Agriculture.