If you’re looking for a super quick and easy veggie dish, make this authentic Chinese tiger salad for a tasty and refreshing addition to your meal!
Tiger Salad: Bold, Clean Refreshing Flavor
As the weather warms up, I’d love to share with you this classic Northern Chinese cold dish called tiger salad.
Made with cilantro, English cucumber, green onions, and green chiles plus simple seasonings, it creates a bold yet refreshing taste that is perfect with the cool, crisp texture.
Easy Cold Dishes: Variety with Minimal Effort
A typical family-style (or restaurant-style) Chinese meal will include a number of cold and hot dishes. This not only provides a sense of balance and variety in terms of temperature, it’s also a way to keep the meal from not overwhelming the cook!
By including cold dishes like tiger salad, the cook can easily add something tasty to the spread without spending much more time. The cold dishes can even be made earlier in the day or the day before.
Cold dishes like this may not be common in overseas Chinese restaurants, but they are very much a staple in China.
Variations on Tiger Salad
This appetizer has several different versions, though I’m happy to tell you that NONE of them contain tiger. The most common ingredients are the greens that I’ve included here. In some tiger salad recipes, chefs will use a huge amount of cilantro and green onion to give the dish an extra big kick of fragrance.
Optimizing the Ratios
When we were developing this recipe for tiger salad, we decided to reduce the quantity of those more intense herbs so your mouth won’t be overwhelmed when you take a bite.
As for the dressing, it’s made from just five ingredients. Those ingredients include rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, and salt.
Our goal here was to create balance – giving you a hint of each of the spicy, sweet, sour, nutty, and umami notes but not so much of anything so as to overpower the cooling essence of the dish.
A Note on Knifework
For the best experience, I recommend preparing the veggies using julienne cuts as shown in the photos. It takes a bit more care, but there are some significant advantages to julienning:
- It makes it easier to get some of each ingredient in one grab with your chopsticks
- The long, thin cuts make for more surface area and better sauce absorption
- It looks pretty, and we eat with our eyes before we do so with our mouths 🙂
Super Easy and Perfect for Summer
I know it seems simple, and it is, but once you mix this all together, it has an incredibly refreshing and delicious taste and you’ll want to make this dish all the time.
Tiger salad is one of my favorite cold dishes on warmer days. It’s a great way to get in your veggies and herbs for better health. If you grow any of these things in your garden, then your tiger salad will be even fresher and more full of flavor.
Versatile for All Occasions
You can make tiger salad in just five minutes, perfect as part of a quick and light lunch. Serve it as an appetizer for dinner on a busy weeknight, or even when you have guests to give them something healthy yet unique.
Tiger Salad (老虎菜)
- 1 cup cilantro , thick stems removed and chopped into 1”(2.5 cm) pieces
- 1 english cucumber , sliced to thin strips
- 1 to 2 anaheim chilis , thinly sliced (or other long green chilis, depending on desired spice level)
- 2 green onions , thinly sliced in a diagonal
- 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl.
- Add all the dressing ingredients over the salad then toss to coat well.
More Classic Chinese Cold Dishes
- Drunken Chicken (醉鸡)
- Chinese Seaweed Salad (凉拌海带丝)
- Chinese Sliced Tofu Salad (凉拌豆腐丝)
- Wood Ear Mushroom Salad (凉拌木耳)
- Chinese Spinach and Peanut Salad (老醋菠菜花生)
Pair with These Authentic 30-Minute Mains
- Sweet and Sour Pork (糖醋里脊)
- Hot and Sour Soup (酸辣汤)
- Xinjiang Cumin Lamb (孜然羊肉)
- Black Pepper Steak (黑椒牛柳)
Lilja Walter is a part of the Omnivore’s Cookbook team and worked closely with Maggie to develop and test this recipe.
Questions and Reviews
I can’t eat cilantro. Can I substitute something else or just leave it out? Would this be good with thinly-sliced Chinese celery? Thanks!
For folks who have an aversion to cilantro, parsley is a direct substitute, but it lacks a little bit of the brightness of cilantro. You might add a tiny bit more acid (lemon or lime is often recommended, but there’s already rice vinegar in the recipe, so just a bit more of that maybe).
So – if you’re using “Anaheim or other greem chiles (NOT chilis), what are the red peppers in the center? Thai chiles? Er Jing Tiao chiles?
?Doesn’t the word “tiger” imply hot chiles??
I put some sliced Thai chili pepper on top for garnish but it’s not needed in this dish. You can add spicy peppers if you like extra kick, but the tiger is more about the mix of green onion and cilantro for the zing.
Oh, Maggie! This salad is so good, I ate it all by myself and had to make another recipe for the family!
Amazing. This is such a zesty, happy dish. My new favorite.
Yum! Added chopped water chestnuts for more crunch. Love this!