For Chinese New Year, there are a number of traditional foods that you are supposed to eat to ensure prosperity, good fortune and wealth for the coming year. These include items such as fish, oranges and chicken.
This is the first year I have volunteered to contribute to the meal, and I decided to test two recipes from Fuchsia Dunlop‘s Land of Plenty, a Sichuanese cook book. The first was a lettuce dish; the Cantonese word for lettuce sounds close to “rising luck and fortune.”
I couldn’t find my sesame seeds… and I was lazy and dumped everything into a bowl, then went ahead and mixed the sauce and lettuce. Tasted fine, but made for a lousy photo! A really, really lousy photo. This would be a good dish for someone who loves the taste of sesame. I found it a little rich for my taste however, and would probably use less sauce on my lettuce if I made it again. The second recipe will be in my next post.
Lettuce in sesame sauce (ma jiang xian cai)
Adapted from Land of Plenty by Fuchsia Dunlop, Page 159
3/4 pound crisp lettuce leaves
For the sauce:
5 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste of dark tahini
2 teaspoons sesame oil
a pinch of sugar
salt to taste
optional garnish: 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
Clean the lettuce and cut into managable-sized pieces (for instance, if using a lettuce heart, quarter them). Briefly blanch the lettuce in boiling water, then place the leaves into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain throughly and arrange the lettuce attractively on a plate.
For the sauce, combine the ingredients and pour over the lettuce. (FYI, the sauce is meant to be thick.) Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.