I have always been wondering why the Chinese restaurants here do not use authentic Chinese vegetables in their dishes, maybe it’s because they are more expensive or maybe the restaurants’ owners are concerned if the local Swiss will not like them? Anyway, I learnt something from them, apart from Chinese leaves and broccoli they use, I have discovered the ‘lattich’ (translation: lettuce) which is commonly used in salads, can also be used in hot dish in Chinese cooking. The Lattich here looks very similar to Romaine lettuce but it does not taste exactly the same, a bit more bittery.
Lattich is easily found in local Swiss supermarkets, and it’s nice for me to be able to cook vegetables in authentic Chinese way without specially going all theway to the Asian groceries shop.
In Hong Kong, we have Chinese lettuce (唐生菜) which has a stronger subtle bitter taste. One of the modern and popular ways to prepare them in the last years is with yellow bean sauce. Chinese lettuce is not available in Basel and lattich is an ideal substitute and enable me to remain the essence of Chinese (Cantonese) cooking. You can find the Lee Kam Kee Brand yellow bean sauce in the Asian food stores. The one I used here is a famous local brand in Hong Kong called “Kowloon Soy “or “Mee Chun”, I visited their store in Central last Oct. For local customers, you can buy their sauces which are kept in the glass containers, otherwise they have cans or bottles to choose from. For me it’s indeed more appropriate to buy the canned ones (see pictures below).
- 1 lattich/romaine lettuce/iceberg lettuce/ chinese lettuce, tear into large pieces, wash and drain
- 2 tbsp Chinese yellow bean sauce
- 1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine (or mirin)
- 1 tsp thinly striped fresh ginger
- sunflower oil or other cooking oil
- Heat up 1 tbsp of cooking oil in a saucepan, add in the ginger stripes, let it cook for 30 secs at medium high heat. Then stir in the yellow bean sauce and Chinese cooking wine or mirin, stop when it’s boiling, you have now got a a sauce. Keep warm and set aside.
- Boil hot water and pour into a deep pan or wok, bring to boil.
- Add 1 tbsp of **cooking oil to the water and then cook the lattich in portions, only leave them in water very briefly for about ***10 secs each and take them out from the water and lay them on a serving plate. Discard excess liquid.
- Split the vegetables in two separate plates if necessary.
- Finally pour the warm yellow bean sauce on top and serve with your other favorite Chinese main dishes and steamed rice.
* it does not matter if you use the one that contains beans or not, the fine paste which is more commonly found is absolutely fine.
**It is important to add a little oil to the water when cooking vegetables, this will make the cooked lattich or lettuce staying green.
***Do not overcook the lettuce as they are best eaten when they are crunchy.
Chinese Yellow Bean Sauce, there are actually 3 types of Chinese yellow bean sauce, a course one which you can still see some yellow beans, a fine one and a dark yellow bean sauce.