My Mother's Lettuce Packages

Course : Chinese
Serves: 4
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Ingredients:

1 medium lettuce head
4 cups corn oil
1/3 cup walnut pieces
1 ounce bean thread noodles
1 tablespoon garlic -- minced
12 ounces pork -- ground
2 medium green onions
1 can smoked clams
1 can water chestnuts -- (small)
1 cup lettuce -- coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sherry
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch -- mixed with
1 tablespoon water
 

Preparation / Directions:

Cut green onions into pea-sized pieces. Drain and chop coarsely the smoked clams and water chestnuts. Detach lettuce leaves from core, wash and dry them gently. Arrange lettuce leaves around the edge of a large platter. Heat oil in wok until it is about to smoke. Tear bean thread noodles apart and cut with scissors into small portions. Carefully put a portion of the noodles into the hot oil. (They will expand dramatically!) As soon as they expand, turn them over and cook the other side briefly. Drain them and remove to a bowl lined with several layers of paper towels. Cook the remaining noodles in the same way. Drain them very well with paper towels and then crunch them and put them into the center of the serving platter, surrounded by the lettuce leaves. Put the walnuts into a strainer and immerse them into the hot oil. They will brown very quickly. Be careful they do not burn. Remove them to a paper towel, drain well and chop into coarse pieces. Remove all but 2 T of oil from the wok. Sauté the minced garlic and chopped green onions until lightly browned. Add the ground pork and sauté until it loses its pink color and starts to brown. Use a large spoon to remove as much grease as possible from the pork mixture. Add the chopped smoked clams, chopped water chestnuts and chopped lettuce to the pork mixture. Mix well. Combine the soy sauce, cayenne, oyster sauce, sherry, sugar and sesame oil; stir into the cooking mixture and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly. Remix the cornstarch and water and add to the middle of the wok. Stir constantly, blending other ingredients into cornstarch mixture and simmer three more minutes. Pour the cooked dish on top of the bean thread needles on the serving platter. Sprinkle the walnut pieces on top and serve at once. To eat: Place a lettuce leaf on your plate. Put a spoonful of the pork mixture and noodles in the middle of the leaf. Fold the leaf up and eat the package like a bared. Serves 12 as part of a family style Chinese dinner, 4 as a main dish.


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