Lettuce is used in soups just like any other green, usually added at the end. We like to use cos or butter lettuce in this particular soup, although they have slightly different textures - the cos remains a little crisp thanks to its larger ribs, whereas the delicate butter lettuce wilts and becomes silky.
- 300 gm coarsely minced pork
- 80 ml each Shaoxing wine and soy sauce, combined (1/3 cup)
- 1 tbsp peanut oil
- 20 gm ginger, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tsp coarsely ground Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 tbsp chilli bean paste
- 1 litre chicken stock (4 cups)
- 2 tsp cornflour mixed with 1 tsp water
- 1 bunch Chinese chives, finely chopped
- 500 gm soft tofu, cut into large cubes
- 1 small lettuce (baby cos or butter), leaves separated
- 1Combine pork and half the Shaoxing and soy mixture and set aside.
- 2Heat oil in a wok or large saucepan over high heat, add ginger and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant. Add Sichuan pepper and pork and cook until pork is starting to brown (5-10 minutes). Add chilli bean sauce and chicken stock, remaining Shaoxing and soy, and bring to the boil. Stir in cornflour mixture to thicken the soup, then bring back to the boil.
- 3Add chives and tofu to soup and stir gently until tofu is just warmed through (1 minute). Divide lettuce among bowls, then pour in soup and serve.