Friday, December 11, 2009

Celery and Fragrant Tofu Salad, 芹菜拌香干

Imagine you do not have a electric food chopper/processor to finely mince the celery, in this Celery and Tofu Salad - 芹菜拌香干, what would you do? Use a heavy Chinese chopper/cleaver and start...chop chop chop...mince mince mince...and still...chop chop chop...mince mince mince.

Imagine you have celery and tofu, then "BLAND" comes into mind. Do not be fooled. This Celery and Tofu Salad - 芹菜拌香干 can be as fragrant as you want it to be.Not robust but subtly fragrant.

The finely-minced consistency betters the texture of this appetizer or dish. Contrary to what many would associate as a light refreshing summer salad appetizer(凉拌小菜), this dish aptly fits into the cold winter months. How? Why? Imagine a bowl of piping hot plain congee...wouldn't this dish fit so well as a simple side dish for the congee?

Celery and Tofu Salad  芹菜拌香干
Ingredients: 5-6 stalks of celery, blanched, then finely minced (note:drain away excess moisture or water. substitute regular celery with Chinese celery*; in fact Chinese celery works better if you ask me); 1-2 pieces five-spice marinated tofu, finely minced (note: available in Asian supermarkets. substitute: firm tofu); pinch of salt; 1/2 tsp ground white pepper, 1 tsp sesame oil

Directions: Toss the celery and tofu thoroughly in a deep mixing bowl. Add salt, white pepper, and sesame oil as seasoning and mix them really well with the minced celery and tofu.

Do You Know?...Chinese celery ( more usually known as 药芹 in Chinese, literally meaning Medicinal Celery)  is quite different from regular celery. The Chinese celery originated in a form of wild celery. sometimes known as smallage. As illustrated below, the stems/stalks of the Chinese celery are much thinner (and usually hollow).

Chinese celery also has a much stronger (pungency of medicine) and flavor, thus used like a herb (similar to parsley or cilantro) in cooking. Chinese celery can be a popular garnish to soups.

Hope the folks at Weekend Herb Blogging get some insights on regular vs Chinese celery at Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska this week.

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