Tuesday 20 July 2010

Haddock with Braised Lettuce

A common Chinese dish is cooked lettuce; it has a great juicy and crunchy, yet soft quality to it. The Chinese rarely eat raw vegetables, and an early memory of mine is of my dad serving my grandmother a tuna salad he'd made - she promptly headed off to the kitchen to give it a good stir-frying.

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

Serves 2

2 heads of Little Gem lettuce
1 large haddock fillet
2 eggs
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.


Chris Pople said...

Believe it or not, but Gordon Ramsay at Claridges served me the best cooked lettuce dish I've ever had. I think it was briefly par-boiled then charred on a charcoal grill. It tasted AMAZING. I think it was a Little Gem, too.

Monkeyboy said...

That's it! Saturday dinner sorted out. Where do younger your fish? I love deptford Market but the fish stalls look a little dodgy.

The Shed said...

Oh yum, this recipe sounds delicious. I do like a bit of cooked lettuce - recently taken to BBQing baby gems with oil, lemon and salt.

Anonymous said...

its a new one to me... but if it's good enough for you I think I can give it a try... and i've got tons of lettuce in the garden... I also love the idea of bbqing it, along with my spring onions... thanks for the tips. x

Kerri said...

I keep meaning to cook braised lettuce at home but end up just chucking it in with whatever I'm eating instead. So lazy. This looks great.

Blonde said...

Huh. I wouldn't have thought about cooking a lettuce before. But now I just might. Yums.

S said...

love braised lettuce, had it at a Chinese Malaysian restaurant in Rome. love the photos. x shayma

miss south said...

One of the best vegetarian dishes I've ever eaten was a Chinese braised lettuce soup in a thick broth. Ate it about 15 years ago and still get hungry thinking about it! Maybe I should have a go...

Northern Snippet said...

Lovely,a variation on Petit Pois a la Francais.

Dan said...

Beautiful photo at the top Lizzie - really like it.

Jonathan said...

Braised lettuce. Nice. And I like the sound of the grilled lettuce that Chris had once upon a time. I guess it's a good way of dealing with a lettuce that has been shunned for a few days!

Helen said...

If there is one thing that can improve braised lettuce, it is pork.

PDH said...

This looks lush... especially the fish!