Beef and Chili Bamboo Shoots in Butterhead Lettuce

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I first sampled this delicious dish when I was 11 years old at a local Chinese restaurant in north London when my family was invited by my parents’ new-found friends to celebrate our move to England from South Africa. My mother also fell in love with the dish and recreated it at home, serving it on iceberg lettuce. I remember her complaining about not being able to get fresh bamboo shoots (something she took for granted as my grandparents were farmers and had a bamboo farm), so she had to get used to buying the canned variety. I decided to reinvent and modernize this dish by adding small segments of mandarin oranges and using Butterhead lettuce instead. This is a very happening dish – there is a real burst of flavors!

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 medium red chili, seeded and finely chopped
  • 7 oz ground beef (fine not coarse), seasoned with a pinch of cornstarch, salt and ground white pepper
  • 5 oz canned stripped bamboo shoots, drained and finely diced
  • 6 fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced and finely diced
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • dash of toasted sesame oil
  • 1 large spring onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small handful cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 Butterhead lettuces, leaves separated and washed
  • 2 oz roasted peanuts, finely chopped or ground
  • 12–16 small mandarin orange segments, white membrane removed

Method

  1. Heat a wok over high heat and add the oil.
  2. Stir fry the garlic, ginger and red chili for less than a minute. Add the seasoned ground beef and stir fry until it starts to turn brown. Throw in the bamboo shoots, mushrooms and shallot and stir fry for less than 1 minute. Season with soy sauce and sesame oil and stir well. Throw in the spring onion and cilantro.
  3. Arrange the lettuce leaves on a plate and divide the mixture among the leaves.
  4. Sprinkle some roasted peanuts over each little parcel, add some mandarin orange segments to each one and serve.

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