I am a huge fan of cooked lettuce. It sounds a little funny, but hear me out. I grew up eating Chinese food and salad just does not exist in traditional Chinese cuisine – lettuce is always cooked. There are no raw vegetable dishes. I’m not sure if this is because most vegetable dishes have a little bit of meat in them or if it’s a remnant of the fact that there weren’t reliable sources of running water for vegetable washing. Regardless, raw wasn’t very common. Now of course, salads are super common place everywhere, but my favourite way of eating lettuce is still when it’s slightly cooked.
Something magical happens when you cook lettuce, especially when it just starts to wilt – the edges become silky smooth, the leaves become a little bit sweeter, the core a little bit crunchier and overall, it just gets a whole lot tastier. Grilled romaine seems to be a thing these days, but I’m going to be one of those annoying “hipster” types and say it: I was into cooked lettuce WAY before it became a thing.
Speaking of hipsters – if you’re on the lookout for the next ingredient that’s going to make a splash in the the food world, my bet is on Chinese black vinegar. It’s malty, slightly sweet, and just a little bit reminiscent of balsamic. More importantly, it’s super tasty.
This salad has everything: charred lettuce with a bit of crunch, silky seaweed, creamy medium boiled eggs, toasty croutons and an addictive dressing. I could seriously eat it everyday!
Grilled Romaine Salad Recipe with Eggs, Wakame & Black Vinegar
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Chinese black vinegar
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 cup wakame (dried seaweed)
- 1 slice thick cut bread
- 1 head romaine, intact, washed, throughly dried and cut in half
- 2 eggs, soft of medium boiled, sliced in half
- black sesame seeds, to garnish
Whisk together the dressing ingredients, taste and adjust soy and vinegar if needed; set aside. Rehydrate wakame in hot water according to directions on package. While the seaweed is rehydrating, grill your croutons.
Heat a bit of oil in a non-stick skillet and grill bread on both sides until golden and crisp. Set aside. In a large frying pan, heat up a touch of oil over medium high heat. Place the romaine in the pan, cut side down and fry until slightly charred and wilted, flipping once. Remove from the heat when done.
Drain the wakame and toss with a bit of the dressing. Cut the toasted bread into large croutons. Assemble the salad by placing the grilled romaine on a large plate. Top with grilled croutons, dressed seaweed and egg halves. Drizzle on the dressing and sprinkle on a few black sesame seeds. Enjoy immediately.
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