Easy Raw Zucchini Salad (凉拌西葫芦 Liang Ban Xi Hu Lu)
August 1, 2020
This is a super easy vegetarian dish that goes well with almost anything, especially on a hot summer day. It goes well with barbecued meat, rice, porridge, or noodles. If you’ve never had raw zucchini, you will be surprised at the delicate flavor of this summer squash.
Make sure you thoroughly wash zucchini then use a peeler to peel off the skin. Peeling of the skin serves two purposes. The skin could still have bacterial or germ residue left on it. This is important to me because the world is still in the middle of a pandemic. As a result, I like to remove the skin before eating any raw vegetable and fruit. The second purpose of peeling the skin is that the inner raw squash can more easily absorb the sauce’s flavor.
What does raw zucchini taste like? Raw zucchini tastes a bit similar to cucumber. it has a mild refreshing flavor and is not nearly as juicy. Most are subtly sweet, some are slightly bitter, and a bit crunchy to bite.
The key to this dish lies in the way how zucchini is prepared. After peeling off the zucchini’s skin, it is best to cut it into thin long strips. I use a mandolin to make consistent thin strips. This way the raw zucchini is soft and tender and can easily absorb all the flavors from the sauce. However, because the raw zucchini absorbs flavor easily, it is best to add the sauce last before serving so the sauce does not overwhelm the whole dish.
The sauce can certainly be tailored to personal preferences, including balancing the amount of soy sauce, sugar, salt, and vinegar. I like to add a few Thai chili peppers to give a spicy kick. You can use any type of pepper, ranging from mild to spicy, to suit your taste. Or you can forego the peppers. My 4-year-old has very low tolerance to spicy food, so I don’t include any chili peppers when I make this dish for him. I also water down the sauce by eliminating almost all the salt and sugar. He likes it so much that he can finish 2 raw zucchinis worth of salad all by himself.
Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Low Carb
Active Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 12 minutes
Servings: 2-4 people
- 2-3 medium zucchinis (green or yellow)
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce1
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar1 or Chinese Black Vinegar
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil or olive oil
- 2-3 Thai chili peppers (optional)2
- Wash the zucchini thoroughly. Use a peeler to peel the skin off.
- Cut the zucchini in half crosswise. Then, using a mandolin slicer, slice the zucchini into thin strips.3
- Transfer all the sliced zucchini into a large bowl.
- Cut the Thai chili peppers into small pieces.
- In a small bowl, add all the sauce ingredients: 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce, 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar, ½ teaspoons of sugar, ¼ teaspoons of table salt, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, and chili pepper pieces, mixing well.
- Just before serving, pour the sauce into the zucchini bowl. Gently and evenly mix the sauce with the zucchini strips.
- For a gluten free version, make sure to use gluten free soy sauce and balsamic vinegar, which has a similar taste to Chinese Black Vinegar.
- Thai chili peppers can be quite spicy. Opt out or try some milder and sweeter chili peppers to suit your liking.
- It’s best to use some type of slicer to have consistent thin strips.