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Lettuce With Three Shreds Recipe (Sansi Shengcai)

Lettuce does not appear in China's cuisines too often, but when it does, the results are usually startlingly good.
Lettuce with Three Shreds Recipe
Photo by Liz Barclay

Servings: 2-4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes


1 pound|450 grams, more or less, of iceberg or romaine lettuce
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 dried thai chilis
1 tablespoon dried wood ear fungus threads or 1 large dried or fresh wood ear fungus.
Boiling water, as needed
1 tablespoon black vinegar
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons peeled and finely shredded ginger
¼ cup|60 milliliters toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds


1. Clean the lettuce and shake it dry. Cut the leaves into a fine (⅛ inch) julienne. Place the lettuce in a colander set in the sink and toss it with salt.

2. Break the chilies in half, shake out the seeds, and remove the caps. Place the chillies in one small work bowl and the dried wood ears in another, and cover both with boiling water. When then chilies have plumped up, drain and cut them into very fine threads, making certain that there are no fiery clumps sticking together that will startle your dinners. Slice the wood ears into thin pieces, if they are not already julienned. If you are using a fresh wood ear, trim and slice it into fine shreds.

3. Squeeze the lettuce and discard the excess water. Put the lettuce in a work bowl and toss it with the vinegar and sugar before tasting and adjusting the seasoning. It should not be sweet, but rather be refreshing withy over the a gently tarte edge.

4. Pile the lettuce loosely in a wide serving bowl. Sprinkle the chili, wood ears, and ginger threads over the top. Heat the sesame oil until it barely starts to smoke, and pour this evenly over the threads to release their fragrance. Scatter the sesame seeds over and toss together before serving.

Reprinted from All Under Heaven: Recipes from the 35 Cuisines of China. Copyright © 2016 by Carolyn Phillips. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.