I am a scientist who loves to cook because there are many similarities between working in a lab and cooking in a kitchen. I love to share my cooking experience with you and to inspire others to cook.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Lettuce "Chips"

                                                             This is not a lettuce, but a kale                

I know the title of this post has caused some head-scratching. As far as I am aware this idea is as original as it can be (albeit borrowed and implemented differently). Most of the original ideas usually failed in its first attempt and this is no difference.

My lettuce "chips" experiment failed but I made some interesting discoveries, which I will tell you later but first:

What is this lettuce chips that I tried to make?

It is an alternative to kale chips that I try to invent.

Many of you might not know what kale chips are. Kale chips are made of kale that's baked in the oven until it becomes crunchy like chips.

I won't be surprise if many of you have not heard of kale, which is a kind of vegetable. I had kale long time ago and it gives off an interesting, and almost-bitter taste. Kale also turns gooey when it is cooked.

                                                                    Recognize this vegetable?

However, someone had a eureka moment when he/she decided to put kale in the oven, which turned kale into something magical and thus an entire industry of kale chips was born.  It is called chips because baked kale is crunchy like potato chips. Beats me.

Kale is so-called the most nutritious vegetable and since someone found a way to make it taste good, kale chip has become a billion dollar industry and has been for the last 3-4 years. It is normally found in organic/healthy-centric grocery stores.

                                                           Example of commercial kale chips

I had home-made kale chips twice in my life and I was blown away by the texture, the taste and the deliciousness. I have to make this my own.


I can't seem to find any place that sells kale since moving to this part of the world. No one has heard of it. Maybe I didn't look hard enough, even if I did, it is probably too expensive.

That's when the idea of making "kale-substitution" chips idea germinated.

I locked on two features that I think are important to the "chip-ness" of kale: it has to be a sturdy vegetable (think lettuce, not spinach), and there needs to be many curls (think cabbage). I have a theory that the folds on kale increase its surface exposure to heat.

                                                                 Lettuce of unknown kind

So I went to the market looking for vegetable that has these two features and this particular kind of lettuce caught my eyes (I don't know the name of this lettuce). This could work!!

I followed the standard instructions of making kale chips, which is wash, dry, season, and bake.
(this blog has detail instructions: click on link kale chips)

                                                     The lettuce chips look promising

What did I learn?

Baked lettuce (this particular kind of lettuce) is crunchy as you can see from the angularity of the crumbs, but sadly, it tasted bitter. As it turns out, it is also bitter when eaten raw. I don't know if this is a unique feature of this kind of lettuce or an anomaly.

                                               Baked lettuce is crunchy but not very yummy

As a conclusion, I showed that other vegetables, selected carefully, can be crunchy what it is baked. It is not a kale-specific phenomenon. I just need to find the right kind of vegetable.

If you haven't had kale chips before and it is readily accessible, I encourage you to try it out. Even better if you make it at home.

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