Lettuce in Sesame Sauce (Ma Jiang Xian Cai)

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3/4 lb crisp lettuce leaves
5 tbsp Chinese sesame paste (or dark tahini)
2 tsp sesame oil
a pinch of sugar
salt to taste
optional garnish: 1/2 tsp toasted sesame seeds


Clean the lettuce.  If using lettuce hearts, quarter them lengthwise; small crisp leaves can be used whole.  Arrange the lettuce pieces neatly on a serving plate.

Combine the sesame paste and oil in a small bowl and season with sugar and salt to taste.  (The sauce should have a luxurious pouring consistency - it can be thinned if necessary with a little peanut or salad oil.)  Pour over the lettuce leaves.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using, and serve.