Marinated octopus with celtuce purée, blood orange and olives

If you’ve never had celtuce before, you’re not alone. Chef Zak Walters, chef and co-owner of Salt's Cure, tells us what's not to love about this versatile yet often overlooked stem lettuce.

Nope, that’s not “lettuce” misspelled. If you’ve never had celtuce before, you’re not alone. The space age-looking stem lettuce isn’t a common ingredient outside of Chinese cooking, but that may change soon. For years, the folks at Coleman Family Farms in Carpinteria, California, have been trying to introduce celtuce to customers at the Santa Monica Farmers Market. Lucky for us, Zak Walters and Chris Phelps of Salt’s Cure are helping to spread the word about this often overlooked vegetable.

The chef-owner team have a new dish on their menu at their West Hollywood restaurant that allows the celtuce’s “mild, nutty, herbaceous flavor” to shine through. The romaine-flavored stalks taste best when contrasted with other  pungent ingredients like “green garlic, radishes, chiles and ginger.” At Salt’s Cure, Walters cooks down the gnarly stalks to make a chilled purée that he serves with marinated octopus, blood orange crisps and bitter greens like arugula or ruby streak mustard frills from Windrose Farms.

Puréed, sautéed, blanched, steamed or raw, celtuce is a versatile ingredient worth adding to your repertoire. Curious to try it before you buy it? Head straight over to Salt’s Cure while it’s still in season.



Celtuce. (Photo by Downtowngal)

Photo of Marinated octopus with celtuce purée by Camellia Tse.