Stir-fried lettuce always sounds a bit strange to Western ears, but once you realize that there are few things that cannot be cooked in the wok, you understand everything. The intense heat of the wok stir-frying technique means quick cooking. This preserves the nutritional content as well as the taste and texture of almost any vegetable. Indeed, as in this recipe, contact with the wok imparts a gentle smoky flavour to the food. Thus, we turn inexpensive and prosaic iceberg lettuce into a surprisingly tasty dish. The savoury bacon gives the lettuce an added flavour but omit the bacon and you have a fine vegetarian dish.
Cut the bacon into thin shreds width ways. Heat a wok or large frying-pan over a high heat until it is hot. Turn the heat to low, add the bacon and cook until it is brown and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain well on kitchen paper.
Separate the lettuce leaves and tear all the large leaves in half.
Heat a wok or large frying-pan over a high heat until it is hot. Add the oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the lettuce leaves and stir-fry for 1 minute. Then add the rest of the ingredients except the sesame oil and continue to stir-fry for 1 minute. Finally, stir in the sesame oil. Remove the lettuce leaves with a slotted spoon with some of the sauce and arrange on a warm serving dish. Garnish with the bacon and serve at once.
© 1996 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.