Iceberg lettuce -- the pale green heads of crispy lettuce found at most grocery stores -- is generally the least expensive type of lettuce. It works well in scores of salads, on sandwiches and burgers, and in some cooked dishes, including stir-fries. Stir-fried iceberg lettuce isn't difficult to master if you follow a few guidelines.
One of the keys to tasty stir-fried iceberg lettuce is in the preparation. You need it clean and ready to go when the time comes to add it to the wok or pan. With that in mind, take the time to wash the head in cool water and dry it off with a paper towel, core it and then break it up into smaller, bite-sized pieces before you start stir-frying. To core a head of iceberg lettuce, hold it in one or both hands with the core facing down, then slam it hard on your countertop. Turn it over and twist the core; it should pop right out. You can slice the lettuce leaves with a sharp knife or tear them with your hands, whichever you prefer.
Short and Sweet
To get the most from stir-frying iceberg lettuce, it shouldn't be in there for long. Get all of the ingredients and sauces ready before you turn up the heat and measure your vegetable or peanut oil into the wok. The lettuce will only take one or two minutes with constant tossing in the hot oil to just wilt and be ready to eat. Depending on the ingredients in your stir-fry, you may have to add the lettuce near the beginning of cooking or after several other ingredients have had a chance to cook through.
Iceberg lettuce doesn't bring much flavor to a stir-fry, but it will add to the appearance and create a texture contrast with ingredients like beef or chicken. To keep your dishes fresh and exciting, don't be afraid to experiment with different accompaniments to the lettuce, different sauces and with cutting the lettuce leaves into various sizes before cooking.
Selection and Storage
You may end up wilting your iceberg lettuce during the stir-fry process, but make sure you're adding crispy lettuce. Select heads of iceberg that don't show any signs of wilting and don't have any dark areas around the head. A fresh head of iceberg lettuce will keep in your refrigerator for up to two weeks, so even if it seems like it has been there for a while, check it out before you decide it's too old to use for the stir-fry. In some cases, all you have to do is peel away the outer leaves and it's good to go.
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