The Chinese aren't the only ones to cook lettuce though. Typically a French dish, it reminds me of rustic country farm houses, sun shining in the garden, a big bowlful with a crusty hunk of bread to dunk in the sauce while chugging back a glass of the palest pink rosé. When I shut my eyes (and possibly my ears) as I sat on my balcony bang smack in the middle of New Cross Gate, I could almost imagine I was there. Until the police sirens wailed and the buses honked their horns.
Haddock with Braised Lettuce
2 heads of Little Gem lettuce
1 large haddock fillet
200gr frozen peas
100gr pancetta or bacon lardons
2 cloves of garlic
200 ml chicken stock
4 spring onions
4 tbsp plain flour
1 large knob of butter
Halve the lettuces lengthways, so that they still hold their shape. In a large pan, add the butter and the bacon lardons. Mince the garlic and throw that in too. Next, fry the lettuce on both sides, cut side down first, until they are browned on each side. Add in the stock until it comes up to half way up the lettuces, and with the cut side down, place the lid on and turn the heat down low.
Meanwhile, place the eggs in a cold pan of water, bring to the boil and then take off the heat. Leave them in there for 3 minutes and then remove and run under cold water.
Heat up another non-stick pan with plenty of vegetable oil. Shake the flour out onto a plate and season well with salt and pepper. Take the haddock fillet and dredge in the flour, and fry skin side down first and then turn them over. Remove from the heat.
By now the lettuces should have been braising for at least 10 minutes. Cut the spring onions on the diagonal and throw them in along with the peas into the stock and simmer vigorously for 3 minutes or so, until the peas are tender. To serve, place 2 halves of the lettuce in a deep bowl, and spoon the peas and cooking liqour around it. Peel the egg, halve it and then place chunks of the fried fish on top. Serve with bread, though I found it filling enough as it is.