What On Earth Is “Celtuce?”

Even vegetarians and vegans get tired of their same old rotation of vegetables. Want to try something different? Have you ever heard of celtuce? It goes by a few other names, including “asparagus lettuce,” “celery lettuce,” or “stem lettuce.” If you see it at a Chinese grocery store, it’s labeled as “wosun.”

Celtuce is grown mostly in southern China, and came to the United States thanks to David Burpee of the Burpee seed company. Like his father, who traveled extensively searching for seeds, David turned to the international community for new ideas. According to the company history, he got the celtuce lettuce seeds from a missionary living in China. The seeds launched in the US in 1938 under the name “celtuce,” which David came up with.

If you want to find celtuce, head to a Chinese grocery store. You’ll recognize it by its thick stalk, thicker than celery, with leaves growing from the top. It can weigh between 1-2 pounds. You may start seeing it in regular grocery stores more often, however, as many food trend experts and chefs believe it’s going to become more popular. Hosea Rosenberg, a winner of “Top Chef,” says it’s going to become “the new kale.”

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What does this green veggie taste like? It’s very mild with a flavor similar to asparagus. It’s also crunchy. It can be eaten raw, like celery, and makes a good addition to salads. You can also spiralize and cook the leaves and stalk for stir-frys. Because of its mild flavor, it goes with a variety of cuisines, not just Chinese, though you’ll find mostly recipes using east Asian flavors because they are the most familiar with the veggie. Experiment with other spices, oils, and more to come up with your own recipes! In terms of nutrition, celtuce is almost 95% water. It has a little bit of fiber, low carbs, and a good amount of vitamin C and potassium.

Use celtuce in stir-fry