Stir Fry Lettuce with Dried Shrimp
Lettuce is more commonly eaten raw, but cooked lettuce is equally, if not, more delicious while still retaining its crunchiness. This Stir Fry Lettuce with Dried Shrimp is simple, fast, sweet and savoury, perfect with rice or on its own.
Stir Fry Lettuce with Dried Shrimp Recipe
The main ingredients for this stir fry lettuce recipe are lettuce and dried shrimp. I used Iceberg Lettuce for this recipe, but other types of lettuce like Romaine works as well. Of course, the fresher the ingredients, the better its taste.
Dried shrimp gives this dish a lovely savoury flavour that complements the sweetness of the lettuce. The balance of these ingredients makes a very satisfying and memorable meal.
The seasonings of light soy sauce and sesame oil deepen the richness of the flavours, bringing about notes of umami and savouriness.
I have also used crispy garlic and garlic oil for that earthy, herby texture and aroma. If they are not available, they can be substituted with minced garlic and unscented cooking oil. Be sure to fry the garlic and cooking oil until the garlic is lightly orange and crispy before removing them from the pan.
Tapioca flour and water are mixed together to create a “flour slurry”. This is a gravy-thickening agent that makes the gravy of this dish silky smooth, with a velvet-like consistency. If tapioca flour is not available, it can be substituted with corn starch instead.
Preparing the Ingredients
Separate the leaves from the lettuce head. With a sharp knife, sever the stem from the root’s stump and gently peel off the individual leaves. It’s okay even if some of the leaves end up tearing apart.
Cut the leaves into 2-inch squares, or bite-sized pieces. There should be a lot of lettuce leaves. Soak all the cut lettuce into a basin filled with water for 45 minutes to 1 hour. This hydrates and firms up the leaves, making them crisp and fresh. If pressed for time, soaking the lettuce leaves can be skipped.
While the leaves are soaking, make the flour slurry. Mix the flour with 25ml of water until smooth and well-combined. Set aside.
Then, give all the leaves a thorough wash and rinse before draining the water with a colander. Give it a few shakes to remove the excess water and set aside to let the remaining water drip off.
Next, soak the dried shrimp in hot water for about 1 minute. This allows the shrimp to expand a little, while at the same time cleaning and removing some saltiness from them.
After a minute of soaking, drain the water and roughly chop the shrimp. Set it aside.
Cooking Stir Fry Lettuce with Dried Shrimp
Heat the pan over medium heat. Add in the garlic oil and wait until it is slightly warm. Add in all the chopped shrimp and stir until they are well-cooked. A lot of bubbles will appear as they are cooking – this is normal. Once the shrimps have changed to a darker orange colour, they are done. Switch off the heat, remove them from the pan and set them aside.
With a little oil left in the pan, switch on the heat. Put in all the washed lettuce. It looks like there’s a lot right now, but as the lettuce cooks, a lot of water is released. This also results in the lettuce’s volume reducing as well. Carefully turn the lettuce in the pan with a pair of tongs to evenly distribute the heat. Rotate the lettuce in this manner for about 2.5 minutes, or until the lettuce has shrunk to about half its volume.
After 2.5 minutes, the lettuce has reduced in volume, while also becoming softer. This serving amount is perfect for 4 people. There is also quite a lot of gravy at the base of the pan; carefully remove and discard it. This is because the gravy will increase in volume from now; potentially turning the dish into a soup and diluting the seasonings.
Place the pan back over the heat. Now we can add in the seasonings: sesame oil, salt, light soy sauce, and half of the crispy fried garlic. Give the lettuce a stir to mix the seasonings evenly.
As the lettuce absorbs more heat, it becomes softer and releases more water. The gravy that we have removed earlier has increased again. However, this time, we are keeping the gravy to accompany the stir fry lettuce dish.
Push the lettuce to the side, exposing some of the gravy. Pour in the flour slurry and stir to evenly mix them. This will thicken the gravy slightly, making it smooth and velvety to enjoy with rice. Once the gravy has fully incorporated with the flour slurry, switch off the heat.
Dish out the stir fry lettuce and garnish with the cooked dried shrimp and the rest of the crispy fried garlic.
Serve immediately and enjoy!
This Stir Fry Lettuce with Dried Shrimp is really different from enjoying the lettuce fresh and raw. It still has a light crunch and sweet taste, with bits of chewy, savoury dried shrimp and caramelized crispy fried garlic.
The gravy is naturally sweet, well-balanced with the saltiness of light soy sauce and garlic oil. Its thickness is just right to coat the grains of fluffy white rice with its flavours. Even the light fragrance of the sesame oil brings an appetizing aroma to this dish.
It really is delicious with rice or eaten on its own.
This Stir Fry Lettuce with Dried Shrimp dish should be consumed within a day at room temperature, or stored until the next day in the fridge. Enjoy!
Stir Fry Lettuce with Dried Shrimps
- Sharp Kitchen Knife
- Chopping Board
- Non-Stick Frying Pan
- Food Tongs
- Silicone Spatula
- Separate and cut the lettuce leaves into 2-inches squares, or bite-sized. Wash and soak in water for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Add water to the tapioca flour. Stir to mix well. Set aside.
- Drain the water from the lettuce with a colander and set it aside to drip excess water off.
- Soak the dried shrimps in hot water for 1 minute. Strain the dried shrimp and chop into smaller pieces. Set aside.
- Heat the garlic oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat.
- When the oil is hot, add in the chopped dried shrimps. Stir fry for 30 seconds, or until aromatic, and the shrimps have changed colour.
- Switch off the heat and remove the dried shrimps from the pan. Set it aside.
- Switch on the heat to medium again. Add the washed lettuce to the pan.
- Rotate the lettuce with a pair of tongs for 3.5 minutes, or until the lettuce is soft and the volume has reduced by half.
- Remove and discard the excess gravy accumulated at the bottom of the pan.
- Add in the seasonings: sesame oil, salt, light soy sauce, and half of the crispy fried garlic. Stir until well-combined.
- Push all the lettuce to one side of the pan. Pour the flour slurry to the gravy. Stir until thick and well-combined.
- Switch off the heat. Dish onto the serving plate. Garnish with crispy fried garlic and cooked dried shimps. Serve.
- Garlic oil and crispy garlic oil can be substituted with 3 cloves of chopped garlic, fried in 2 tbsp of unscented cooking oil until lightly orange and crispy, prior to frying dried shrimp.
- Sesame oil is used for aromatic, it can be omitted.
- Tapioca flour can be substituted with cornflour. Otherwise, the flour slurry can be omitted as well.
- Recommended to consume immediately after cooking.
- Can be kept in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to 1 day. Reheat before serving.
- Freezing is not recommended.