Gems work well because they fit in a pan easily but cos, iceberg or any lettuce that has good structure will work- simply cut them down to the size of the pan or grill. The pistachio really gives beautiful texture and flavour to this dish, contrasting the creaminess and adding a much-needed crunch. Lettuce can also be thrown in any stir fry right at the end and – it soaks up the sauce and tastes amazing.
Cooked lettuce takes on flavours wonderfully. If your crisper draw is all leaves but you don’t feel like a salad, give this technique a try.
- 4 tbsp dry spent tea leaves
- 250 g crème fraiche
- 3 heads baby gem lettuce, outer leaves removed
- 100 ml dashi stock (see note)
- salt, to taste
- ½ bunch dill, picked
- ½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 60 g shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
- extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- 1 lemon
- ground black pepper, to taste
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Serves 4 as a side
Standing time: 20 minutes
- Make a little cup out of foil and place the tea leaves inside. Place the crème fraiche in a small bowl, then place the crème fraiche and tea in a larger container with a lid. Use a kitchen blow torch to light the tea leaves, then leave them to smoulder. Place a lid over the smouldering tea leaves and the crème fraiche and sit for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat a chargrill pan over medium-high heat. Cut the lettuce in half lengthways, leaving the stem intact. Place the lettuce, flat-side down and cook until lightly charred. Turn and baste with the dashi stock. Cook for another minute or until collapsed slightly, then remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
- Season the smoky crème fraiche with salt and stir in 30 ml water to make it more easily spreadable.
- To serve, place the charred lettuce on a serving plate and cover with the crème fraiche. Sprinkle over the herbs and pistachios, then drizzle with olive oil. Use a microplane to finely grate the lemon zest over the top. Add a grind of black pepper and serve immediately.
• You can substitute the dashi stock with 80 ml (⅓ cup) water and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce.
Adam Liaw cooks, laughs, and explores culture with some of Australia's most beloved in The Cook Up With Adam Liaw.
Photography by Danielle Abou Karam.