Lettuce is used so often in the West as a garnish and salad that one tends to forget it is a vegetable and, as such, capable of a greater culinary role. As a child at home, I ate only cooked lettuce and I was a bit put off to see my Western friends eating it raw in their lunch sandwiches. In Hong Kong, the street-side food vendors or food stalls offer stir-fried lettuce as a vegetable dish to accompany rice and chicken dishes. It works very well, provided you use firm lettuce and stir-fry it very quickly.
Separate the lettuce leaves and wash well. Cut the large leaves in half.
Heat a wok or large frying-pan and add the oil. When moderately hot, add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Next add the lettuce and stir-fry quickly for a few seconds. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, except the cornflour mixture. Give a couple of stirs and then remove the lettuce to a platter with a slotted spoon. Add the blended cornflour to the sauce and bring to the boil. When the sauce thickens, pour over the lettuce and serve at once.
© 1995 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.