Tiger salad

Tiger salad

Lao hu cai

By
From
Every Grain of Rice
Photographer
Chris Terry

The tiger is a symbol of strength and valour in China and also, along with the wolf, of ferocity and danger. This dish, with its lacing of fresh green chilli, can be as fierce as a tiger, hence the name. It’s generally held to be a northern invention, though it’s now popular across China and there are many different versions.

Green chillies and coriander seem to be the essential ingredients: some cooks mix them with cucumber or tomato, while others use sliced onions (salted for a while to draw out some of their pungency). The final salad tends to have a refreshing, sour-hot taste. It’s particularly good for stimulating the appetite, as an accompaniment to alcohol, or to cut richer dishes. This version is inspired by one served at Yiwanju, a restaurant specialising in old Beijing dishes: the chef there, Xi Guyang, told me how to make it. There is no need to be particular about quantities: just assemble it as you would a simple salad and add as much or as little chilli as you please.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1/2 cucumber
salt
good handful fresh coriander
1-2 mild green chillies, to taste
1/4 teaspoon caster sugar
2 teaspoons chinkiang vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
ground white pepper

Method

  1. Cut the cucumber in half lengthways, then cut each half into three sections. Cut each section lengthways into thin slices and put the slices into a bowl. Sprinkle over 1/2 teaspoon salt, mix well and set aside for 30 minutes or so.
  2. Wash the coriander, trim off the ends of the leafy stems and cut into lengths to match the cucumber slices. (If you are using coriander that is sold as leaves only, rather than on the stem, simply chop it roughly.) Thinly slice the chilli(es), discarding stem and seeds.
  3. Combine the sugar, vinegar and sesame oil in a small bowl, with salt and pepper to taste (you may prefer not to add salt, because the cucumber will already be a little salty).
  4. When you are ready to serve, drain the cucumber and squeeze gently to get rid of excess water. Combine with the coriander and chilli, pour over the dressing and mix well.
Tags:
Chinese
Sichuanese
Asian
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