I am not a big fan of salads. I don't like preparing them nor eating them, but there are a
couple of salads, that made their way into my kitchen and stayed there for good. This is one of them - very simple, crunchy, a bit spicy and refreshing.
I found the recipe once in a Chinese home-style cook book (I already mentioned it - "Chinese Home-Style Cooking" (Wang Jinhuai and Xue Yuan, Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, 1990), tried it a couple of times and really loved it.
I have it confirmed - this salad is known and served in Sichuan (thank you, Jin!), however, more often at home.
The preparation is very easy, you can make it in approx. 20 minutes (of which 15 minutes are for marinating carrot in salt) and store in refrigerator, then take to work for lunch. I make it as a cold side to many dishes, not only Chinese ones.
Some things worth mentioning: there is one particular ingredient, that you need to look for at your local Asian store.
You probably walked by this pretty green thing without noticing it, but next time, take a bunch home! This is garlic sprouts; so we normally use garlic bulb - cloves, but there are more of garlic that can be used.
This is a long, green "stalk" growing out of a bulb, ended with a big flower on top. In this recipe, we use only the stalk, without the flower. You can find bunches of garlic sprouts in Asian stores as they are quite common in Chinese cuisine.
Even though we don't need the whole bunch for this recipe, you can easily store them in refrigerator (I keep them in a moist clean kitchen cloth, and change it from time to time). You can also prepare more carrot salad and store it in refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Mine just got better in time.
I realize that this ingredient is not easy to find any time you want, and as the results of my survey on Instagram shows, there are many of you guys, who tend to skip the recipe, if the ingredients are too difficult to find. I get it. We all work, commute and try to cook quick meals with easy ingredients, BUT try this one next time you go to Asian store OR replace it with... regular garlic. The difference between garlic sprouts and cloves is that latter is stronger and more dominant, while garlic sprouts add extra crunch and texture to the salad.
To balance the crunch I give you the recipe in 2 versions: first one is the original and the second is with more common ingredients.
One last thing to mention: if you ever go to Asian store, look for this magical device:
I found it in each Asian store I visited: Chinese, Thai, Korean and Japanese one as well. Using this "peeler" you can get nice and thin strips of vegetables effortlessly. It really makes life easier, but if you don't want to get it, use your knife to get as thin strips as possible.
You can use it in all sorts of recipes, not only this one. The utensil is very versatile and it is very quick to shred hard vegetables into strips. It is definitely worth getting!
One last thing important here: chili oil. You can use a store-bought one, but I will encourage you to use homemade. If you already have a recipe that you like - great, if you don't - check my recipe for Sichuan chili oil and the salad will be even better!
Let's get to it!
for 2 big servings
260 g carrot, peeled
1 tsp salt
25-30 g garlic sprouts (OR 80-100 g white cabbage leaves, and 1 garlic clove, pressed or very finely chopped)
5-6 g fresh coriander leaves
2-3 tbsp chili oil
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1,5 tsp sugar (white or brown)
1,5 tsp rice vinegar
Shred carrot with the peeler I mentioned, to obtain 5-6 cm long strips. If you use white cabbage instead of garlic sprouts shred it using the peeler as well.
Place carrot (and cabbage, if using) shreds into a colander, add 1 tsp salt and mix well. Set aside for 10-15 minutes or until vegetables get soft and release moisture. Meanwhile, shred also garlic sprouts with the peeler. Roughly chop coriander and set aside. After 15 minutes, wash salted vegetables under running water, drain well by squeezing and transfer to a serving bowl.
Add chopped coriander, garlic sprouts (if using, or pressed garlic clove), chili oil, sesame oil, sugar and rice vinegar and mix well. Taste and increase amount of chili oil, if you prefer the salad more spicy.
Perfect side for fried dishes, soups, as a starter or to accompany BBQ dishes. Carrot prepared in such a way is soft, yet still juicy and crunchy. The best taste is definitely with garlic sprouts, but I know that many people are not like me, looking for the right ingredients, going to a special store to get them. But I would like to encourage you to make this extra effort sometimes, to find out something new and exciting.
This is my second favorite salad, right after classic Chinese cucumber salad... which I also work on right now!
If you decide to make it, please let me know on Instagram! I would love to know your opinion and result!