Briefly blanched lettuce topped with a tasty, sticky sauce, iceberg lettuce with oyster sauce is a classic Chinese dish that gives plain vegetable an appetizing tone.
What do you associate with lettuce? I guess most of you would say a refreshing, healthy bowl of salad. Do you know it’s also very nice when cooked and served with Chinese oyster sauce? Today I’d like to introduce one of the most popular Chinese vegetable dishes: Iceberg lettuce with oyster sauce (蚝油生菜).
Two simple steps to cook it
Some people wrongly assume that lettuce with oyster sauce is a stir-fry dish. In fact, it’s blanched iceberg lettuce leaves topped with a warm sauce. So it’s super simple to cook.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Briefly blanch the lettuce leaves (torn by hands into pieces) then transfer to a serving plate.
- Fry sliced garlic in oil then add the sauce which consists of oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar & water. Pour it over the lettuce. Done!
Keep the lettuce crunchy
Timing is crucial when blanching lettuce leaves. Nothing is worse than a plate of soggy lettuce. So make sure you keep some of its crunchiness. To achieve the best result, follow these tips:
- Turn off the heat when you put the lettuce leaves into boiling water. Cover the pot immediately.
- Leave it to sit for no more than a minute then drain immediately. If you are blanching a smaller amount of lettuce, reduce the time accordingly.
Oyster sauce can be vegetarian
Now what you’ve got is lettuce pieces that are wilted but still a bit crunchy. Next, prepare the tasty, smooth and shiny sauce. The main condiment is oyster sauce, a versatile Cantonese sauce which gives a wonderful flavour to plain vegetables.
Obviously, this lettuce with oyster sauce dish can not be considered as vegetarian since it contains oyster extracts. But I’ve got good news! If you wish, use vegetarian oyster flavoured sauce instead. It’s made from the essence of shiitake mushrooms and tastes nice too.
Garlic provides another key flavour. Use thinly sliced pieces if you fancy a nice look, or crush the garlic if you’d like to enhance the garlicky taste. But no matter what, be generous with it!
Cook with other vegetables
This classic lettuce with oyster sauce demonstrates how you can cook vegetables in a very simple yet delicious way. Iceberg lettuce is used in the traditional version, but I found romaine lettuce works very well too.
In fact, you can blanch other vegetables, such as broccoli, asparagus, snow peas, pak choi, then serve with the same sauce. Be aware that you would need to adjust the amount of time required for blanching different vegetables. For example, it takes 3-4 mins to cook through broccoli in boiling water.
Other tasty vegetable dishes
If you love vegetables as much as I do, check out other recipes which use vegetable as the star ingredient. They are all very simple to cook, but full of goodness and great flavours.
- Chinese Cabbage Stir-fry, Two Ways
- King Oyster Mushroom with Garlic Sauce
- Homegrown Bean Sprout Stir-fry
- Cucumber Salad, Three Ways
- Eggplant with Plum Sauce
Iceberg lettuce with oyster sauce (蚝油生菜)
- 1 head iceberg lettuce, about 500g/18oz, see note 1
- 1½ tablespoon oyster sauce, see note 2
- ½ teaspoon dark soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon cornstarch
- 3 tablespoon water
- ½ tablespoon cooking oil
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- Wash the iceberg lettuce then tear it into big pieces by hand.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the lettuce. Cover with a lid. After 1 minute, drain well then transfer to a plate.
- Mix oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch and water.
- In a pan, fry garlic in oil over medium heat. Once the garlic slightly browns, add the sauce. Stir until thickened.
- Pour the sauce onto the lettuce. Serve immediately.
Give it a try if you find my recipe interesting! You can also find many other classic Chinese recipes on my PINTEREST page. Follow me and stay tuned!
Have a wonderful day!