Tiger Food 老虎菜

Tiger Food (老虎菜)is a refreshing summer salad made with cucumbers, chilis, leek and cilantro, topped with a sesame-soy dressing.

Tiger Food (老虎菜)is a refreshing summer salad made with cucumbers, chilis, leek and cilantro, topped with a sesame-soy dressing.

f you’re intimidated by the thought of cooking Chinese food, or cooking at all, take heart. One of China’s most brilliant dishes (in my humble opinion) came from someone just like you, a young Dongbei woman who had to cook for her mother in law.

The story goes that this newly wed woman had absolutely no kitchen skills, so when her  mother in law gave her a giant plate of cucumber, green chilies, leeks and cilantro to cook with, she panicked. In her desperation, she chopped everything on the plate and threw it into a bowl with some seasonings. When her mother in law saw the dish she called her “hu” (虎)a word that means tiger, but in that part of the country means stupid. Poor thing!

But I have to say, I’m kind of glad her mother in law was such a terror, because this is a really wonderful dish! Tiger food is fresh, crispy, and savor, and unlike many western cold starters, it has a refined depth that almost make it a candidate for a main dish. And the best part is, it only takes about five minutes from start to finish!

And even better, it’s a very, very healthy dish, packed with minerals, vitamin C, free radicals, and immune strengthening elements. For those of you living in China, Cilantro is a great natural digestive aid and celating agent, meaning it can help your body get rid of heavy metals that have built up in your system. This dish is a natural heavy metal detox!

But let’s not get carried away by its health benefits! The bottom line is that this dish is awesome. Try it and see!

Tiger Food
A cool, crunchy summer starter with cucumber, long green chilies, leek and cilantro in a sesame oil sauce. 


2 Asian cucumbers

3 long, green chilies

1/2 leek

1 small bunch of cilantro

2-3 tbsp Sesame oil

2-3 tsp soy sauce

a pick of salt

a small pinch of MSG (optional, but authentic)

Pluck a handful of cilantro leaves, set aside.


Wash and dry all of the vegetables and julienne them. You can prep the veggies about an hour ahead of time, but do keep them chilled to prevent the cucumber from drooping.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine sesame oil, soy sauce, salt, and if want to be authentic, MSG, and mix until combined.

Right before serving the dish, combine all of the ingredients and give it a quick toss.


*Hate leek? Think this salad is too green? Feel free to skip the leek, add white onion, or use a red chili instead. Chinese cooking is not an exact science, it’s about creating delicious food.