What's that? The tall stalk at the farmers market or in an Asian grocery store that looks like nothing else is celtuce, which is also called stem lettuce, asparagus lettuce or celery lettuce. Neil Subhash from Present Tense Farm near Seattle talks about what makes it so great in this short video, shot at the Magnolia Farmers Market.
As it's growing, celtuce looks a lot like a head of romaine, but those leaves are stripped away when harvested. It's a mainstay in its native China, where it's typically stir-fried, but it has also shown up on upscale restaurant menus like Eleven Madison Park in New York City, where the kitchen braises it and at Seattle's Restaurant Marron, where it was paired with striped bass, (pictured below). Late in 2014, The Daily Mail in London suggested celtuce just might be the next kale.
When thinly sliced, it retains a natural crisp quality and its taste varies depending on where and when it's grown. When temperatures are cooler, the bitter characteristic mellows into a slight sweet flavor. Like its cousin, celery, celtuce has virtually no calories, making it a big hit among the Paleo dieting crowd, and it's high in potassium and a decent dose of Vitamin A.