Tiger Salad (Lao Hu Cai) Recipe, à la Xian Famous Foods
[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]
Inspired by lao hu cai, the tiger vegetable salad served at Xi’an Famous Foods, this recipe also nods to the restaurant Fu Run in Queens, which specializes in cuisine from the Dongbei region of China.
Crisp-tender batons of celery, stems of cilantro, thin rings of scallion, and a few slivers of hot chili pepper are all tossed with a sweet-tart dressing made with soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil, and everything gets topped with a generous sprinkling of tiny dried shrimp. It goes well with any meal, any time of year.
Why It Works
- Peeling the celery ribs ensures there are no stringy bits left in the salad.
- Small dried shrimp add savory depth and pops of salinity in each bite.
- Cutting the scallions and chili pepper on a bias makes it easier for diners to pick up the salad with chopsticks.
- 3 celery ribs (5 ounces; 140g), preferably cut from closer to the heart, peeled of tough fibers and cut into quite thick matchstick lengths
- 1/2 long hot green pepper (1/2 ounce; 14g), split in half, each half then cut on a bias (see note)
- 2 scallions, sliced thinly on a bias (2 ounces; 56g)
- 1 small bunch cilantro leaves and tender stems, torn by hand or chopped into 3-inch lengths(1 ounce; 28g)
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) rice vinegar
- 3/4 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt; if using table salt, use half as much by volume
- 3/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons tiny dried shrimp (0.2 ounce; 6g); see note
In a medium mixing bowl, combine celery, long hot green pepper, scallions, and chopped cilantro.
In a small bowl, combine rice vinegar, salt, and sugar, then stir to dissolve the salt and sugar completely. Add soy sauce and sesame oil and stir to combine.
Pour dressing over vegetables, tossing to ensure thorough distribution.
Mound vegetables on a serving plate and sprinkle dried shrimp all over the top. Serve immediately.
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