Tuesday, June 14, 2011

celtuce stir fry

well, i'm all about trying something new.  this morning, one of my coworkers brought me these two huge plants he cut that morning from his garden and said "you can eat the leaves in a salad" and then proceeded to tell me how i could peel and stir fry the stalk.

it looked a lot like tobacco plants that i've seen growing in the mountains.  i asked him "what is it?"  he said with hesitation "chinese lettuce."

i looked it up online and it is chinese lettuce (he would know... he is from china.  he also introduced me to mulberries earlier this year, growing on a tree just around the block from our office.  i think they are like the country tree or something in china.  whatever they are, they are common there and he knew a lot about them - well, that you could eat them.)

SO anyway, this was how he said to cook it and i did exactly what he said.  it was AMAZING!

i peeled and coarsly chopped a ginger root - like, one that was medium sized. 
i peeled and coarsly chopped 3 garlic cloves.
i peeled and chopped into 1" pieces the stalk/stem of the celtuce.  this was not easy.  i'm glad he brought me 4 plants because a lot of it was wasted.  it took at least 3 for me to get the hang of peeling it.  the skin of the stalk is very tough, and it seemed dangererous to peel.  but, i finally figured out a trick, of which i cannot explain in words.  i just say, if you ever go to a asian market and buy it - and peel it - buy extra and be patient and careful. 
i also chopped up 3 or 4 green onions into 1" pieces.
i halved 6 cherry tomatoes.  these were big ones so that is why only 6.  if they had been little, then i would have done more.
i got out the red pepper flakes and EVOO and salt.

put the frying pan on the stove on med-high heat and put some EVOO in the pan.  when it was hot, i put the ginger and garlic in there and tossed them about some.  when they started to brown, i put in the celtuce and turned the heat down to med because the garlic seemed to be burning. i sprinkled red pepper flakes on it and kept stirring/shaking the pan.  i added the green onions after a few minutes and a few minutes later added the tomatoes.  i sprinkled with salt and turned i down to med low and when the tomatoes got warm, i served it over noodles that i had pre-warmed (they were leftover from last night).

it was so amazing.  the tomatoes seemed to absorb a lot of the heat from the pepper.  it was a little too hot for me - my mouth was burning a lot.  the garlic and ginger was my favorite part, but the celtuce was also really good.  it just absorbed the garlic and ginger flavor and had a texture much like water chestnuts.  i suppose if i cooked them longer they would be less crispy. 

anyway, 5 stars for the celtuce and the recipe provided by their grower.

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