A near-instant springy green vegetable before the springy greens. (And, yes, you can cook lettuce -- here's why you should.) Note: You can use this technique on many other vegetables in season, including romaine lettuce, spinach, watercress, baby bok choy, asparagus (fat spears sliced 1/4-inch thick on the bias; pencil spears in 2-inch lengths), snow peas and snap peas. Adapted slightly from The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen (Simon & Schuster, 1999) and Saveur Magazine —Genius Recipes
rice wine or dry sherry
freshly ground white or black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons
peanut oil or other neutral oil
scallions, cut on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces
cloves garlic, thinly sliced or smashed
medium head iceberg lettuce, cored, outermost leaves discarded, inner leaves torn into 4-inch wide pieces (or substitute 12 ounces of other greens -- see headnote)
Kosher salt, to taste
In This Recipe
In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine or sherry, sugar, and pepper; set sauce aside.
Heat a wok or 12-inch skillet over high heat. Add peanut oil, half of the scallions (including all of the white and light green pieces), and garlic and cook until garlic is golden, about 5 seconds. Add lettuce and stir-fry until lettuce softens slightly, about 1 minute. Drizzle in sauce and cook until lettuce is just coated with the sauce, about 1 minute. Season with salt, divide between 4 bowls while lettuce is just tender and still bright green, and garnish with remaining scallions.
Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink cooking tropes. They're handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacy. They get us talking and change the way we cook. And, once we've folded them into our repertoires, they make us feel pretty genius too. Watch for new Genius Recipes every Wednesday morning on our blog, dug up by Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore.