Essentially, It’s A Hybrid
Celtuce is essentially a cross between celery and lettuce – hence the name – and it’s been dominating Chinese cuisine for years. But according to a food trends report for 2019, we’re about to see it cropping up a lot more on restaurant menus and food stores across the globe, alongside other international veggies like cassava and Japanese yam. This is because its mild flavour and crisp texture has gained popularity amongst chefs specifically for its versatility.
The Stem Is Key
While the buttery soft green leaves are edible, it’s the thick stalk that’s the best part of this vegetable. Full of antioxidants, the bumpy stem should be peeled to reveal its soft, translucent green central core. Expect a flavour that’s been described like hazelnut or buttered popcorn with a chestnut-like crispness.
It’s Full Of Health Benefits
If there’s one thing experts and dieticians all agree on, it’s that celtuce is a great veg for maintaining your health overall. It’s packed with body-boosting vitamin A and C, folate and minerals such as magnesium, copper and iron. Each fresh stem carries only 18 calories and just like kale, it is high in potassium, which is vital for controlling heart rate and blood pressure, while high levels of vitamin K work to improve bone mass and maintain a healthy brain function
You Can Eat It Raw Or Cooked
Whether you slice, roast, pickle or puree it, celtuce can be consumed in so many ways and it cooks fast too. One of the most popular ways to eat it is by stripping the stem down into noodle-like shapes with a peeler or spiralizer to create crunchy ribbons like pasta. Just remember to peel off the stem’s outer skin before slicing away at the inside so you don’t have any of the gnarled outer layer. If eating raw, use it as a replacement food for cucumber or celery, and try using the leaves as a little addition to your salad.
It’s More Accessible Than You Think
While not yet a big-chain food store mainstay, it is available at certain farmers markets and Chinese health stores in the UK. You’ll also often find it goes by different names which include Stem Lettuce and Chinese Lettuce – the latter of which we’ve already spied cropping up in Waitrose and Tesco online.