Three Chinese Summer Cold Dishes – Tomato Cucumber and Wood Ears

When you think of summer food, salad usually comes to mind (got to love a good summer salad). They are, actually, just as common in Chinese cooking, although instead of having a mix of different leaves, Chinese veggie cold dishes are usually made from a single ingredient. These are all very easy to make, so here are three salads with different flavours! They can all be prepared in advance and left in the fridge for dinnertime – no need worry about wilting leaves.

Tomato stirred with sugar (Tang Ban Xi Hong Shi)

Well, tomato is a fruit, so to enhance its taste, the only other ingredient you need is sugar.

3 tomatoes
2 tbsps of white sugar

Step 1: pour boiling water over the tomatoes and soak for 1 minute. This allows the sugar to melt into the tomatoes more easily.

Step 2: slice all the tomatoes into eighths and arrange into a flower shape so that the sliced side is facing up to soak in the sugar.

Step 3: dust the sugar over the tomatoes. Leave in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving!


Cucumber with vinegar (Liang Ban Huang Gua)

Cucumber has a refreshing taste, so to compliment it, the salad dressing is quite simple. There is no quantity on the vinegar and soy sauce, because you use it to make the dressing, so the most important part is the proportion.

1 cucumber
1 tbsp salt
Zhenjiang vinegar
Light soy sauce
A few drops of sesame oil

1 tsp sesame seeds

Step 1: cut the cucumber into vertical slices around 3-4cm in length, then quartered.

Step 2: dust evenly with the salt and set aside for at least 1 hour.

Step 3: as mealtime approaches, mix the dressing with half vinegar, half light soy sauce and a dash of sesame oil. Pour over the cucumber, let the pieces soak well, then top with the sesame seeds.


Spicy wood ears (Liang Ban Mu Er)

Black wood ears are available in most Asian supermarkets, and will come in a dried form. These aren’t heavily flavoured themselves, so work well with a heavier, spicy dressing. Again, there is no quantity on the vinegar, olive oil and soy sauce because it’s more about the proportions, much like when you are making a vinaigrette salad dressing.

50g wood ears
Handful of goji berries
Olive oil
Zhenjiang vinegar

Light soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp chilli sauce (e.g. Lao Gan Ma)
1 tsp chopped garlic
A few drops of sesame oil

Step 1: soak the dried wood ears and goji berries in boiling water and leave to expand for an hour.

Step 2: boil the wood ears and goji berries for 3 minutes, the drain and place into a bowl.

Step 3: mix the dressing with 50% olive oil, 25% soy sauce, 25% vinegar, salt, chilli sauce, chopped garlic and sesame oil. Shake well and pour onto the wood ears and goji berries. Leave to soak in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving!


These cold dishes work really well together. Which one is your favourite?


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