Last week I got a pound of oriental lettuce from the co-op. I had never heard of it, and had no idea what to expect. When I picked it up, I took a leaf and ate it, right out of the bag and really wasn’t sure that I wanted to eat a salad made of it. It’s a little tough to eat raw, but I wasn’t sure that it would hold up to heat. I put off making it as long as I could, but last night I was making grilled flank steak (local, pasture raised, no chemical) and a salad and I thought I’d try wilting the lettuce. If it was awful, we’d still have the tossed salad to enjoy, right?
Anyway – this stuff was a pain. I soaked it, then rinsed it and there was really quite a bit of it. So I had to cook it in batches. Here’s what we did:
- 8 cloves of garlic, divided
- about 2 table spoons of freshly grated ginger
- soy sauce
- rice wine vinegar
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
- safflower, vegetable, or any light, neutral oil
- lettuce, tomato, red onion, cucumber and anything else you like, salad
- about a lb. of oriental lettuce (or whatever green you like), washed, but don’t dry it – the water that’s left will help to steam it
In a small bowl, combine about 1/3 cup of vinegar with 2/3 cup oil, a little bit of the garlic and ginger, a big squeeze of honey, the lemon juice and about a tablespoon of hoisin sauce, whisk to combine. The measurements here aren’t that important. Experiment with it and find your perfect recipe. Mine changes every time I make it. Set aside.
Coat your grill pan with oil, or cooking spray and preheat it. When it’s hot, add the steak and let it cook to your desired temperature. I like mine rare to medium rare – I turn it a couple of times during the cooking to get those beautiful grill marks.
Heat a large pot – I should have used the pasta pot, I wouldn’t have had to cook it in bunches… Add about 2 tablespoons of oil, when that ribbons add the rest of the garlic and ginger and saute for a minute.
Add as many of the greens as will fit, drizzle soy sauce over the top to taste and then cover to steam.
After about 5 minutes, check it to see if they’re wilted enough. You don’t want to cook these as long as collards, as they’re more tender, so when they just start to wilt, transfer them to a bowl and cover with foil – they’ll continue to cook and free you up to get the rest of the meal ready (or to cook the second batch of greens if you didn’t use a big enough pot like me)
I put a little of the greens, a piece of steak, and a pile of salad on the plate, drizzled the dressing all over it and then proceeded to devour the whole thing.
I didn’t have much hope for the greens, they resembled lettuce in a way that I didn’t think would stand up to the heat, but I have to say, they were delicious. Next time, I think i’ll chop them before cooking and add some sort of heat, either with red pepper flakes or fresh pepper. The steak was absolutely wonderful. This local bred, local fed, farm produces the best steaks I’ve ever had. We’re eating less red meat because the cost is higher, but it’s worth every penny and the salad was sweet and crunchy and a perfect balance to the greens.
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