Adventures in Eating: Lettuce Package
Rosemarie | March 1984
Our daughter Sharon, who is a brand new wife, loves to cook. I might add, she is a very good cook at that. We recently visited her and her husband, and were pleasantly surprised with a delightful Chinese dinner: do-it-yourself Lettuce Packages. Once everything is assembled, it is an easy dish to make and very tasty. Just read the directions slowly, note the progression of ingredients, and you are on your way.
2 butter lettuce (pulled apart, washed, dried and stored in refrigerator)
1/2 cup bamboo shoots, chopped
12-16 water chestnuts, chopped
6-8 dried black mushrooms (oriental section of your market)
3/4 lb pork, coarsely ground
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 T soy sauce
1 T + 1 t cornstarch
2 T dry sherry
1/2 cup chicken broth (canned)
1 1/2 t sugar
2 t salt
1 t fresh ginger, grated
5 1/2 T peanut, corn, or vegetable oil
1 cup celery, finely diced
Use your food processor for any of this whenever you can. Pour enough hot water over mushrooms to cover. Let stand for 15-30 minutes, then drain, squeezing to extract most of the liquid. Trim off the stems and shred the mushrooms fine. Chop very fine. Combine bamboo shoots, chopped water chestnut and shredded mushrooms. Combine the pork with the egg, soy sauce, and 1 T of the cornstarch. Mix well, set aside. Combine the wine, half the chicken broth, sugar, salt and ginger – set aside. Blend the remaining teaspoon of cornstarch with the remainder of chicken broth – set aside.
Heat 4 T of the oil in a wok or skillet. When almost smoking add the pork mixture, stir quickly and constantly to separate bits of pork. When pork is cooked, add the mushroom mixture, stirring about 2 minutes. Add the wine, broth and sugar mixture – cook about 5 seconds, stirring. Stir the cornstarch mixture to make certain it is properly blended and stir into the pork. Cook stirring rapidly, about 15 seconds. Add the celery and stir just until heated through. Add the remaining T of oil, stirring to distribute it. This will glaze the dish.
Turn the dish onto a serving platter, with the lettuce leaves arranged on the outer edges. Place remaining lettuce leaves in a dish and let guests help themselves by spooning mixture onto lettuce leaves, rolling and eating them. A refreshing meal. Serve steamed rice with it if you like.
Be brave and tackle this one. You can do everything ahead of time and just assemble when you are ready to eat.