Richard Ha writes:
Our newest product here at Hamakua Springs Country Farms—our Chef's Select baby lettuce, which we grow hydroponically under a rain shelter—breathes.
That’s why we call our new product “living lettuce”—because we leave some of the roots on when we send it out to the stores. This means the lettuce can take up water and oxygen, and gives it a longer shelf life. It also means one can actually keep it fresh on a kitchen counter for awhile, in a bowl of fresh water, provided some of the roots remain above the water so it can take in oxygen.
We developed the “Chef's Select baby lettuce” product after learning about the finer points of lettuce from Chef Alan Wong, who provides much appreciated help and advice when we are developing new products.
We held a product development meeting at Chef Alan’s King Street Restaurant and I watched him evaluate several different varieties of lettuce. He removed each leaf, giving a running commentary of how each lettuce leaf could be used for salads, garnish and in other ways, depending on its size, texture, color.
I had no idea that lettuce was ever so closely scrutinized. He talked of loft, which is when a lettuce has characteristics enabling it to retain its shape and not go flat under the weight of different protein offerings as well as dressings. He said that he could use baby leaves as the baby lettuce leaves would be tender and retain their identifying shape in salads and garnishes.
That’s what led us to develop what we call Chef's Select baby lettuce, a combination of three lettuces in each container. We chose a mini romaine for its crunchy texture, dark green color, loft and good taste. A butter lettuce is included for its light green color, buttery taste and round shaped leaves, and a lollo rosa is a part of the mix for its brilliant red color, frilly leaves and because its taste complements the other two.
If you try some of our new Chef's Select baby lettuce you’ll know you are getting a lettuce with the characteristics that Hawai‘i’s finest chefs seek out.