Monday, July 25, 2011

Spicy Coriander Salad

So here I am again with more of those posts that I promised you.  This recipe for Spicy Coriander Salad comes from Fuchsia Dunlop's Hunan cookbook rather than her Sichuan cookbook.  My default Chinese cookbook is her Sichuan cookbook and I have to remind myself from time-to-time that her Hunan cookbook deserves love too.  Somehow it has become the ugly stepsister that never gets any attention.  But everytime I make a recipe from the Hunan cookbook I am reminded that it is full of delicious recipes that I have been neglecting.  Take this recipe for instance.  It doesn't sound like much.  And I'm sure that most people are puzzled by the use of cilantro as a salad green.  But it totally works.  We had a nice big bunch of cilantro from the farmers' market that I used for the recipe, but a bunch from the grocery store would work just as well.  The recipe is super easy to put together if you have all of the ingredients on hand.  With a few exceptions, most of them are available in any grocery store.  Chopped salted chilis are a different matter, but once you find a jar of chopped salted chilis at an Asian grocery store you can keep it in the refrigerator forever and ever.  Alternatively you can make your own chopped salted chilis because low and behold, this cookbook also contains a recipe for those.  A little spoonful of chopped salted chilis goes a long way; keep that in mind while you are whipping up the dressing.  Also think about the spicyness of your chili oil.  We made some homemade spicy chili oil (also from Fuchsia Dunlop, but from her Sichuan cookbook this time), which can pack a lot more kick than the "chili oil" that you pick up at the grocery store.  Now that I think about it, we should post that recipe.  I promise I will post it later.  It is really simple and delicious.  You can whip up a big batch one afternoon and have enough chili oil to last out the year.

So with this dish you need something aromatic and somewhat assertive like cilantro to toss with this dressing.  A more delicate green would be totally overwhelmed by the chilis and vinegar.  I thought that the salad was refreshing, but spicy and totally fun.  I really appreciated that it was very different from anything else we have ever made.  And it's more than enough to inspire me to make more recipes from this cookbook.  For real this time.

Recipe after the jump!

Spicy Coriander Salad Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook: Recipes from Hunan Province
By Fuchsia Dunlop


1 bunch fresh coriander (cilantro), about 3 1/2 oz
2 tsp clear rice vinegar
1/4 tsp sugar
1-2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped or crushed
2 tsp chopped salted chilis
1 tbsp chili oil
1 tsp sesame oil

Trim room ends of the cilantro and tear the stems and leavs into 2 1/2-2 3/4 inch lengths.  Wash well and shake and squeeze to remove as much water as possible.  Combine the vinegar, sugar and salt to taste in a bowl and stir to dissolve.  Add to the cilantro with all the other ingredients.  Mix very well with chopsticks.


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