Tiger Salad (Lao Hu Cai) Recipe, à la Xi'an Famous Foods

Savory, refreshing, and tart, this dish is inspired by the lao hu cai, or "tiger vegetable salad," served at Xi'an Famous Foods.

20190529-tiger-salad-vicky-wasik-9
Vicky Wasik

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.

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.

Recipe Facts

Active: 5 mins
Total: 5 mins
Serves: 2 servings

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Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine celery, long hot green pepper, scallions, and chopped cilantro.

  2. 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.

  3. Pour dressing over vegetables, tossing to ensure thorough distribution.

  4. Mound vegetables on a serving plate and sprinkle dried shrimp all over the top. Serve immediately.

Special equipment

Medium and small mixing bowls

Notes

You can use any chili pepper you like in this dish, or even bell pepper if you're averse to chili heat.

The tiny dried shrimp called for here can be found in well-stocked Chinese-American supermarkets, in the section housing refrigerated dried seafood, or ordered online.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
58 Calories
3g Fat
7g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
Calories 58
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3g 3%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 6mg 2%
Sodium 721mg 31%
Total Carbohydrate 7g 3%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 19mg 93%
Calcium 63mg 5%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 369mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)