It goes by many names. And it’s super cool. Asparagus lettuce aka celtuce aka Chinese lettuce. An introduction.
Once harvested, you can eat the long stem of the lettuce. There are also historic recipes such as “Lattichstörzli” from the “Berner Kochbuch” (Bernese Cookbook) from 1899. The stem of the lettuce can become quite thick. It is juicy and slightly bitter. Now there’s another vegetable on the market with a somewhat thicker lettuce stem. It’s called celtuce. The name is an amalgamation of celery and lettuce. The vegetable was cultivated in China. As such, it is commonly also known as Chinese lettuce.
This lettuce is grown for its stem, which can be as wide as your forearm. The stem can be eaten raw or cooked. In China, where the vegetable goes by the name of “wosun”, celtuce is a popular ingredient in stir-fried dishes. It must always be peeled first.
In the US, celtuce is already well known as a successor to kale and is one of 2019’s trendiest vegetables. It’s yet to make its mark here in Switzerland. However, renowned Zurich greengrocer Tiziano Marinello explains: “I see its potential and so this year I commissioned a farmer to grow celtuce”. The vegetable aficionado is particularly enamoured by this new find because it is closely related to our lettuce and yet looks so exotic.
A little tip: The leaves growing on the stem can be harvested at any time! Celtuce is after all a lettuce when all is said and done. It’s important to cut off the stem before it flowers.