Dear Barbara: I am on a low carb diet, and I want to make lettuce wraps. Can you tell me what kind of lettuce is used for the wraps? — Kelly from Lodi
Dear Kelly: I personally like butter lettuce because it is easier to “wrap,” but that is just my own opinion. I did a little research and looked up a number of lettuce wrap recipes to see what lettuce seemed to be used the most. Iceberg, Boston, green leaf and butter lettuce seemed the most used, the favorites being iceberg and butter. Asian wraps seemed to use more iceberg. It does give them a nice crispness, but I think it is hard to roll, which is probably why some of the softer lettuces — like butter lettuce — are used a lot. If you are going to use the lettuce for lettuce cups, and not roll them, I would use iceberg because it holds its shape better. Lettuce wraps are nice, because you can be very creative, and wrap most anything. I am sure you will have fun with them!
Dear Barbara: A friend of mine gave me some salmon that he caught. It is in a vacuum-sealed plastic pouch. I want to know if I can cook the fish in the pouch by putting it in a pot of boiling water, or do I have to take it out and cook it another way? — Jonathon from Lodi
Dear Jonathon: If he sealed the fish himself, using a Seal-A-Meal system or one like it, then you can cook it in the pouch. It is best to thaw it in the refrigerator first. You cannot do it with a vacuum- sealed bag that does not tell you it is boilable. I purchase wild Alaskan cod at Costco that is individually vacuum- sealed and frozen, and it says specifically that you cannot even thaw it in the vacuum wrap.
There are a lot of campers and hikers who say they cook in Ziploc freezer bags, and they love it! I even saw someone on “The Rachel Ray” show who made an omelet in a freezer bag and placed it in a large pan of boiling water to cook it. The box says that you can microwave in freezer bags by leaving a one-inch vent at the zipper end. If they can microwave in them, I see no reason that you couldn’t boil in them.
There are a lot of people who have the idea that any plastic gives off chemicals when they are heated, and should not be touching their food. This is true of some, but Ziploc does not use the components in making plastic products that can harm you.
Any time you boil in a boiling bag, be sure the pot of water is much larger than the bag you are going to put in it.
Barbara Spitzer is a Lodi home cook who also develops recipes for specific consumer products. Do you have a cooking question? Send it to Barbara Spitzer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first name and city.