Although my mother worked at a full-time job, leaving at seven in the morning and returning around five-thirty in the evening, she always managed to put on a three- or four-dish Chinese meal every night. At the time, I took it all for granted, as children tend to do in regard to their parents’ care. As an adult, I learned to appreciate what she had been doing for the family all those years.
Many of the dishes she made were simple home-cooked recipes that took literally minutes. Here is one of her standards – lettuce prepared in a typically Chinese way, blanched and served with oyster sauce. As is the Chinese custom, we rarely ate lettuce raw in our home, but always as a cooked vegetable. Prepared in this way, lettuce retains a crispy texture and its delicate flavour is unimpaired by cooking. The combination makes a simple, quickly prepared, tasty vegetable dish.
Separate the lettuce leaves and blanch them in a pot of boiling salted water for about 20 seconds, or until they have wilted slightly. Remove them and drain immediately. Mix the oyster sauce with the oil. Arrange the lettuce leaves on a serving dish, pour the oyster sauce mixture over and serve.
© 1998 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.