Tiger Salad (老虎菜)

5 from 3 votes
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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!

Chinese tiger salad with cucumber, green onion, and chile pepper

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.

Chinese cucumber and chile pepper cold appetizer

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.

Chinese spicy cucumber appetizer

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. 

Close-up of authentic northern-style tiger salad
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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 (老虎菜)

5 from 3 votes
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!
To make the dish gluten-free use tamari instead of soy sauce.
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: restaurant-style
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

Salad

  • 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

Dressing

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Add all the dressing ingredients over the salad then toss to coat well.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 42kcal, Carbohydrates: 5.6g, Protein: 0.8g, Fat: 1.8g, Saturated Fat: 0.3g, Sodium: 333mg, Potassium: 156mg, Fiber: 0.7g, Sugar: 3.5g, Calcium: 20mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Don’t forget the last step! Tag me @OmnivoresCookbook and #OmnivoresCookbook on Instagram!

More Classic Chinese Cold Dishes

Pair with These Authentic 30-Minute Mains

Lilja Walter is a part of the Omnivore’s Cookbook team and worked closely with Maggie to develop and test this recipe.

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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Jeff says:

    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!

  2. Bill Zigrang says:

    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??

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      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.

  3. AliceK says:

    5 stars
    Oh, Maggie! This salad is so good, I ate it all by myself and had to make another recipe for the family!

  4. Sasha says:

    5 stars
    Amazing. This is such a zesty, happy dish. My new favorite.

  5. Laura says:

    5 stars
    Yum! Added chopped water chestnuts for more crunch. Love this!

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