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jo-mel

Wo Sun -- Stem Lettuce

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jo-mel   

I've used Wo Sun in a stir/fry, but I want to use this vegetable as a pickle. I've found a couple of recipes, but they seem pretty commonplace -- the usual sugar and vinegar. Anyone have a good one? I want to use it in a class where I introduce people to some of the vegetables they see in Chinese supermarkets, but don't know what they are, or how to use them.

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Will   

Could it be salted, kind of like xue li hong / xue cai?

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jo-mel   

Xue li hong -- Red in Snow, is leafy. The Wo Sun has a leafy top, but the long bottom is a solid vegetable, and that is the part I will be using.

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First, sorry it's taken me so long to answer you!

Wosun is sometimes called "stem lettuce" or "Chinese lettuce," and both the stems and leaves are delicious, but cooked in different ways, sort of like beets and beet greens are always given different treatment. Nowadays the leaves are most often cut off of the tops of the stems, washed, and then cut into 2-inch (or so) lengths before being stir-fried with salt and garlic. That, at least, is the most common preparation I've seen.

The stems are totally different from the leaves. They are always peeled, since the skin is tough and inedible. Last autumn I had some friends over for dinner, and they fell completely in love with wosun stems! I cut them into 2-inch sticks and blanched them in salted water just until the rawness was cooked away. Then they were plunged into ice water to stop the cooking, as they turn soft very quickly. Then I made a sauce of roasted sesame paste, light soy, vinegar, and sugar, and napped the drained wosun stems with it to serve cold as an appetizer.

Wosun stems are great in stir-fries, too, like the classic Daqian Chicken of Sichuan, which has pieces of the stem cut on the bias, fried with the chicken and peppers, and given a sweet-sour-spicy sauce. Delicious! Let me know if you need the recipes...

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Oops, hit the "post" button too fast. I haven't seen any recipes for pickling wosun, but I imagine that if you blanched the peeled stems and tossed them with some vinegar, salt, sugar, and chili oil, they would be mighty tasty, but this would be more like a salad dressing rather than a true pickle.

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