The Hungry Girls – Chinese Peanut and Celery Salad

by Jenny Butler
Wednesday 18th January 2012

If you haven’t already visited, be sure to pop by The Hungry Girls’ Blog. It’s only a few months old but Rachel has been regularly updating it with new recipes and Hungry Girls happenings. While you are out-and-about on the internet, drop by HG photographer Leah‘s website, as well as Katherine‘s- she is behind the delightful HG illustrations! -Jenny x

We’ve eaten our fair share of dumplings. There is an eatery near us – I don’t think it’s flash enough to call a restaurant – that does a mean trade in food from north-west China near the border of Russian and Kazakhstan. Spicy lamb skewers; ‘the big chicken plate’ with potato, green capsicum, cabbage and hand-made noodles; and gorgeous boiled dumplings with wafts of ginger and sichuan pepper. These days we have to order two large plates of dumplings to share between our family of three, as our two-year-old daughter can put away a frightening eight or so. With only one plate, this leaves my husband and I going rather wanting.

We made a trip to China about four years ago and tried not to be too ambitious with our one-month visa, covering just a small corner of the south-west rather than cramming in the whole country. Our appetite for dumplings went into overdrive, especially in towns in Yunnan where we found rustic little dumpling houses opening onto the street, steamer baskets stacked up in the doorways. Pork dumplings for breakfast – sometimes in hot steaming soup – was the stuff of our dreams.

A great surprise was the cousin of the dumpling – the larger steamed bun. No filling of sickly sweet barbecued pork to be found, but interesting vegetarian versions with spicy tofu, salted greens or mushrooms, to be washed down with a cup of hot soy milk while you waited for a bus.

Our favourite filling when making dumplings at home is with pork, a little salt and a bucket load of sliced spring onion tops. You can easily buy ready-made skins, but a quick mixture of flour, a pinch of salt and water is so easy to mix up and gives you rustic, authentic dumplings.

In my time of slowly getting to know the dumpling, I think they’re best served with a cool, crisp Chinese salad fresh with rice vinegar, and I’m slowly growing my repertoire. I make a smashed cucumber salad, a cabbage salad, and this fantastic peanut and celery salad. Cook it whenever there’s a call for a Chinese salad, such as with spiced skewers or steamed fish.

Chinese peanut and celery salad

Serves 4

1 cup raw peanuts in their skins
11/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1 tablespoon black or white rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
11/2 tablespoons oil for stir-frying such as peanut or sunflower
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2–1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (depending on their heat)
4–5 celery stalks, wide bottoms cut in half lengthwise, sliced

Boil the peanuts in a saucepan of water for around 15 minutes, until they have softened a little.

Meanwhile, combine the soy sauce, rice wine, vinegar, sesame oil and sugar in a bowl. When the peanuts are cooked, drain them and toss immediately in the dressing. Set aside for 30 minutes or longer to soak up the flavours.

Heat the oil in a wok over high heat and add the garlic and chilli flakes. Sizzle briefly, then add the celery and stir-fry for 2–3 minutes. Add to the bowl of peanuts and mix well. You can serve the salad immediately or leave it to cool to room temperature.

Rachel, Leah and Katherine x

by Jenny Butler
Wednesday 18th January 2012


  • That sounds like a really nice salad, I have a love affair with dumplings too, but unfortunately haven’t found a place where they have a lot of vegetarian offerings yet.

  • Prue 5 years ago

    That salad looks delicious!

  • katelyn 5 years ago

    I’m always on the look out for a new salad (the old tossed salad gets a fair run around this joint) – i think this one fits the bill perfectly.

  • Clare 5 years ago

    Ladies three – what a wonderful step by step delicious recipe… but for me it is the superb photographic illustrations that got me in. The composition of the celery picture caught my attention followed up by the action shots – fantastic. Can’t wait to try this recipe


  • sarah 5 years ago

    yum! I have a fresh load of homemade vegie dumplings in the freezer, and some celery in the fridge, this might do just nicely. thanks!

  • Jess 5 years ago

    Yum, can’t wait to try out the salad – sounds delicious!

    And congratulations on your three cookbooks – they look amazing and the recipes sound devine. I would need to photocopy the whole book or buy two so I can keep one in pristine condition as they are works of art!

    Keep up the fantastic work girls.

  • Kate 5 years ago

    My favourite part of dumpling making is when they come out of the pot all silky and wrinkled. The salad recipe looks delicious.

  • elissa c 5 years ago

    Yup, this reminds me of my friend Deanne. We impressed a waitress today by how many dishes we managed to put away – she then asked if we wanted to share a dessert, at which my friend scoffed. (Share? Really?)

  • clea 5 years ago

    steamed bun – vegetarian versions with spicy tofu, salted greens or mushrooms! OMG that sounds like my heaven! Any recipe or where to try this in Melbourne somewhere?

  • Betty Holscher 5 years ago

    Beautiful books.
    Delicious recipes…
    Photos that make the mouth water!!!

  • Zoe 5 years ago

    Yummo! Two of my favourite things, can’t wait to try it out!

  • Rachel Pitts 5 years ago

    Thanks so much to everyone who has been making such lovely comments on the Hungry Girls guest blog this week – we’re absolutely chuffed! It’s been so much fun!

    This is a reply to Clea who asked about the steamed buns … Yes, vegetarian steamed buns are quite a novelty in Australia I think. There is a yum cha place in Footscray (called Yummie Yum Cha, on Barkly Street) that does do a vegetarian steamed bun that’s pretty nice, but it is also easy to make them at home. One of my favourite fillings is leftover mapo tofu (a vegetarian mapo rather than one with pork – although that would be nice too), and the recipe for this is in The Hungry Girls’ Cookbook Volume 3. The filling has to be fairly full flavoured – this one works brilliantly!

  • Yong Samuelsen 3 years ago

    Celery is a long-season crop that can be tricky to grow, some might say, the trickiest of all. It likes fertile soil, cool temperatures, and constant moisture. It will not tolerate heat and can be hard to transplant. Summer crops in the north and winter crops in the south make celery a year-round producer. All the work is worth it when you harvest crunchy, green stalks..`’,

    Go look at our own blog page as well

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