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Chinese Salads

by Irving Beilin Chang

Salads, Pickles, and Other Cold Foods

Fall Volume: 1997 Issue: 4(3) page(s): 11, 12, and 22


When one looks at most Chinese restaurant menus, salads are seldom found. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, restauranteurs often feel that to serve such a dish would not be in the best interests of the patrons. Secondly, the demand for such an entree did not exist years ago. Thirdly, salads are new to Chinese eateries, and many restauranteurs and especially most of the waiters have limited English vocabulary. Thus they might avoid introducing anything new that requires explanation; and they would prefer to stick with the everyday items. Lastly, many salads are vegetarian and restaurant owners ask themselves, how much can be charged for such dishes that contain no meat?

Recently, Americans have become more aware of eating healthy. Therefore, demand for nutritious, light, and lower calorie foods is on the increase. Why shouldn’t restaurants meet this need and add salads to their menus? Many exotic combinations of vegetables and meats would make a fancy entree for any restaurant menu. During hot summer and early fall weather, cool entrees can be more desirable than heavy and hot meat dishes.

Dressings for these cool more salad-like items can be made with sesame oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, and/or soy sauce. Those with sesame oil, used sparingly as a flavoring agent, are akin to dressings that require oil as one of the main components and Chinese cold dishes made with them are tasty, light, and low in calories.

These cold dish Chinese salads can be divided into different types. What follows are vegetarian and non-vegetarian categories of them provided for your pleasure and two very specific recipes to orient your efforts as you try to develop recipes of your own. Let imagination and tastebuds guide you towards terrific Chinese salad experiences. These might be:

COMBINATIONS OF MEAT, FRUIT, AND/OR VEGETABLES including:
Lychee Roast Duck Salad--
If a Chinese grocer is nearby, you can have a ready-prepared salad item in no time by purchasing an eight ounce container of Roast Duck and a can of lychee fruit. To this combination add sesame oil, some thin soy sauce, and a few sprigs of Chinese parsley. That recipe follows, as do others.
Baked Virginia Ham Agar Agar Salad--
This recipe has been our family favorite. We combine baked Virginia ham, cooked chicken, cucumbers, bean sprouts, and agar agar (which is refined sea weed gum). This combinatin is light and easy to prepare, and if the ham and chicken are already available, then no cooking is required. For an actual recipe, see page 13 in the September 1994 issue of Flavor and Fortune. It was written by Wonona Chang.

SEA FOOD AND VEGETABLE COMBINATIONS including:
King Crab Salad--
Combine some King Crab with lettuce, tomato, and some chopped ginger and sesame oil salad dressing, above.
Tuna Fish Lemon Bean Sprout Salad--
This is another family favorite. Canned tuna is used in combination with lemon peel and juice, fresh bean spouts, scallions, and ginger.
Jelly Fish Cucumber Salad--
Chinese take the giant jelly fish and preserve it with salt, then dry it. It can be obtained that way in most Chinese grocers, whole or already shredded. If whole, it is best to remove one or two from the plastic pouch and rinse them then soak in water. Many of the pre-shredded varieties do not need to be soaked or rinsed. When soaking jelly fish, some of the water will be absorbed. The resulting flat pancake gets a crunchy texture. All jelly fish are high in protein and they contain no fat. The taste is bland and they pick up flavors from the dressing, as does the turnip, cucumber, radishes, or whatever else you mix them with. Some people like to blanch salted jellyfish for ten to fifteen seconds, then rinse in cold water. Doing so, jelly fish shrink a lot. Dry them then sliver very thin and they are ready for use. The exact recipe follows.

VEGETARIAN SALADS WITH TOFU including:
Pressed Bean Curd Salad--
Use the pressed tan/brownish bean curd made with a little soy sauce to simulate the color of meat. The pressing reduces water content thereby giving a firmer texture. This variety of bean curd makes a better meat substitute. Cut the bean curd as desired and then combine with celery hearts and soy sauce. This makes a salad that is light, has texture, color, and a nice taste.
Peanuts and Pressed Bean Curd Salad--
The addition of peanuts to the above salad gives it additional flavor and crunch.
Jade on Snow Salad--
Tender bean curd is combined with scallions and so sauce. For a variation of this recipe, add preserved eggs called Pi Dan, or what some people prefer to call one hundred or one thousand year eggs. For those who love these eggs as we do, alone they make a wonderful first course served with pickled ginger.

VEGETABLE SALADS including:
Asparagus Salad--
Fresh asparagus is par-boiled and flavored with vinegar, salt, sugar, and sesame oil.
Chinese Broccoli Salad--
This salad is served for dim sum in many restaurants. The broccoli is par-boiled and oyster sauce is its condiment.
Kohlrabi Salad--
Peel the kohlrabi, shred, add salt, and let sarty overnight in the refrigerator. Rinse, then add vinegar, sugar, salt, and sesame oil. This is light, crunchy, and most delightful.
Beijing Salad--
This salad developed by Wonona Change can be found on page 12 of the Charter issue of Flavor and Fortune, September 1994. It is described as the salad that accenturates clor, aroma, texture, and good taste.
Lychee Roast Duck Salad
Ingredients:
Half of a Cantonese Roast Dusk, about ten ounces.
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
10 lychees (fresh, peeled and seeded, or canned)
a few spigs cilantro
Preparation:
1. Bone the duck and shred it.
2.Mix soy sauce and sesame oil and toss with the duck shreds. Put on a platter.
3. Top with the lychees and garnish with the cilantro, then serve.
Jelly Fish and Cucumber Salad
Ingredients:
1/3 pound package of jelly fish
1 cucumber
3 Tablespoons Swatow or other light wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Preparation:
1. Sliver the jelly fish and then cut these into two or three inch long pieces. Soak them in warm water for half an hour, then drain well.
2. Peel the cucumber then shred it into pieces equally long as the jelly fish.
3. Mix vinegar, sugar, salt, and sesame oil and toss with the jelly fish and the cucumber shreds. Serve cold.

                                                                                                                                                       
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