Like beets, zucchini is another vegetable I’ve never seen in China or in a Chinese restaurant. But occasionally I come across a recipe for it (as in Jack Santa Maria’s Chinese Vegetarian Cookery). I’ve used zucchini in a pinch (when I’d planned to make an eggplant dish and realized I didn’t have eggplant!) and found it to be a great substitute for both eggplant and cucumbers – it’s spongy in nature, like eggplant, so it will readily absorb any flavors you add to the dish. Beware though – this means it will also readily absorb a lot of oil.
The following dish can be served hot or cold.
- 1 lb zucchini, cut into 1/2″ x 1/2″ x 2″ strips
- 1 tsp ginger root, minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp garlic, minced
- 1 T light soy sauce
- 1 T sesame oil
- 1/2 T rice wine vinegar or black vinegar
- 1 ea scallion, sliced thinly on the diagonal
- 1 T chopped cilantro
- Arrange the zucchini on a heatproof plate, then steam until just tender. Drain off any accumulated liquid. If you will be serving the dish cold, allow zucchini to come to room temperature, then refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
- Combine the dressing ingredients. Just before serving, pour dressing over the zucchini and mix gently to combine.
- Garnish with scallion and cilantro.
To serve this dish cold, you can steam the zucchini up to several hours in advance. Pour off any accumulated liquid and add the sauce just before serving. The dressing can be made several hours in advance and stored in the refrigerator or at room temperature.