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CSA recipe of the week: Stir-fried lettuce

One of the first crops from local soil will be lettuces, which will probably become salads in most cases. But if there's too much, go stir-crazy and take an idea from Chinese cooks, who toss lettuce briefly in hot oil and season it with a little cooking wine, sugar, soy sauce, garlic and sesame oil.

I wouldn't make this if you can't serve it immediately, though. Right out of the wok or skillet, it's still a bit crisp. Thirty minutes off the stove and it turns watery and soggy.

Stir-fried Lettuce

1 head iceberg or romaine lettuce

1 1/2 teaspoons light soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry

3/4 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Core the lettuce and cut into quarters. Separate into leaves. Wash and dry the lettuce thoroughly.

Combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine, sugar and pepper in a small bowl.

Heat a wok or 14-inch skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the vegetable oil and garlic, and stir-fry 10 seconds. Add the lettuce and stir-fry 1 minute. Add salt and stir-fry another minute, or until lettuce is just limp. Swirl in the sauce and cook 1 minute longer, or until the lettuce is just tender and is still bright green. Serve immediately.

(This recipe is adapted from "The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen," by Grace Young (Simon & Schuster, 1999) via the San Francisco Chronicle.)

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