This is based on a Chinese restaurant salad that journalist and cookbook author Jen Lin-Liu had at a dumpling house in Beijing. A quickly infused oil dresses the crunchy, colorful components. The salad can be assembled and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
The recipe calls for shredded tofu, which can resemble thick spaghetti or thin linguine and is available at Asian markets. It can be used straight from the package, making this dish a fast lunch or dinner option.
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium leek, white part only, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
- A few Sichuan peppercorns (optional)
- A few quarter-size slices of ginger root (optional)
- 2 medium unpeeled cloves garlic, plus 3 cloves, minced
- 1/2 medium (8 ounces) head of green cabbage, leaves stacked, then cut into into 1/2-inch strips
- 1 cucumber, cut into quarters lengthwise, then cut into very thin slices (peeled or unpeeled, seeded or unseeded)
- 1 carrot, shredded (see TIP)
- 1/4 cup unsalted peanuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (see NOTE)
- 1 large handful of bean sprouts
- 1/4 pound shredded tofu (see headnote)
- 2 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar (may substitute apple cider vinegar)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
Heat the oil in a wok over high heat until you see wisps of smoke. Add the leek, peppercorns and ginger root, if using, and garlic. Cook for 10 to 15 seconds, being careful not to let the leek burn. Remove from the heat and strain into a small heatproof bowl, discarding the solids. Let cool slightly.
Combine the cabbage, cucumber, carrot, peanuts, bean sprouts, tofu, black vinegar, minced garlic, salt, sugar and the infused oil in a large bowl. Toss to mix well, then serve immediately.
Adapted from Lin-Liu's "Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China" (Harcourt, 2008).
Tested by Jen Lin-Liu.
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