A classic salad with a new look. Flavoured with an easy Chinese dressing. Formula to make this versatile seasoning revealed.
The weather has picked up in the last few days in Bedford. You can definitely feel that spring is in the air. Over the weekend I saw snowdrops thriving in a nearby wood, bunches of daffodils on supermarkets’ shelves, and lots of buds appearing on a shrub in front of our Red House. To welcome the warmer season, I’d like to share a recipe of cucumber salad with an easy Chinese dressing that goes well with many dishes.
Cucumber salad is very popular in China, especially in Northern regions. Take the capital Beijing for example, it’s probably the most ordered cold dish in bistros. The common way to prepare it is to smash whole cucumbers with the side of a Chinese meat cleaver then cut them into small sections. But it can hardly be done the same way to a cucumber bought from regular British supermarkets as they are much larger (both in length and in diameter), less crunchy and have harder skin than Chinese ones.
Instead of smashing them, I slice cucumbers with a vegetable peeler (inspired by a Jamie Oliver video years ago). Not only are those long, half-transparent stripes good-looking, they also create more surface to absorb the dressing. At the end of the peeling process, you will be left with the juicy, seedy part of the cucumber which can’t be sliced with a peeler. But don’t waste any! I always eat it while preparing this salad. It’s so delicious on its own.
Comprised of the most basic ingredients, my easy Chinese dressing may seem ordinary. However, it’s extremely versatile: as dressing for various salads and cold noodle dishes, as a dipping sauce for cold meat, dumplings and buns, or as seasoning for some stir-fries, etc. Here is my simple formula to make it without fail:
- Ratio of the key ingredients: 4 parts of black rice vinegar + 2 parts of light soy sauce + 1 part of pure sesame oil + 2 cloves of garlic
- Adjust the salt to your own taste and use the same amount of sugar as the desired salt
- No set rules for the quantity of chilli and sesame seeds. You may replace fresh chilli with homemade chilli oil.
Unlike the dressing I used for Chinese leaf salad which is seasoned with hot oil, my easy Chinese dressing doesn’t involve any cooking. To save more time, you can make it in volume and use it anytime you want to. Mix vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, chilli, salt and sugar in a tight jar then store it in a cupboard. Since these ingredients are all shelf-stable, the jared dressing can last at least 3-4 months. You do need to add freshly crushed garlic every time you use the dressing though. Toasted sesame seeds are sprinkled onto the salad the last minute too.
Hope you find my recipe useful. In the future I will write more recipes which call for this easy Chinese dressing.