In Chinese cuisine it is not usual to eat food that is raw. So the idea of salads composed of uncooked vegetables is not at all traditional. Of course they DO have salads but most ingredients would have been slightly cooked – or at the very least, blanched.
Being an uncivilized laowai, I love raw salads and here is the recipe for one I make regularly. It is particularly good made here in China because I can buy really fresh, pre-cleaned beansprouts. The salad goes particularly well with grilled fish or meat.
If you live in the UK you can pick up a bag of beansprouts at most of the big supermarkets or local greengrocers,or in an Asian market; but they are possibly a day or two old, and will need some attention to remove the brown growing tip and any damaged sprouts, then you should soak them for 30mins in cold water and drain well before using.
CRUNCHY FRESH BEANSPROUT SALAD
For 2 greedy people
Ingredients: 300g fresh beansprouts. 1 medium carrot, scraped or peeled and cut into long, fine batons. 1 medium red romano pepper, deseeded and cut into long fine batons. 2 small snacking cucumbers (or one medium sized ordinary cucumber) cut into smallish pieces. 3-4 spring onions (scallions) finely sliced, both white and green parts. 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves.
For the dressing:
1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar 2 Tablespoons soy sauce 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil ( sunflower, corn oil etc. NOT olive oil) 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seed oil (available in all good supermarkets) 1 Tablespoon tomato ketchup (I know this seems a weird addition but it makes all thedifference, trust me!).
Whisk all together.
Prepare all the vegetables for the salad and put into a salad bowl. If you prepare them an hour or so in advance, put the bowl in a cool place with a damp tea-towel over it to stop them drying out.
Add the whisked dressing just before serving, toss well. Enjoy!
Obviously all the quantities for the veggies are approximate, you can up or down them, or add other stuff. If you want a slight kick in the dressing add half a teaspoon of chilli sauce, or to your taste! The main thing is to have lots of beansprouts.