Chinese Marinated Celery

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: 15 minutes, plus 3 hours to marinate

A little something to snack on before dinner, a great side dish, or a unique addition to a picnic spread. Ten times better than you could imagine. Try it with carrots too.

1 pound celery stalks

1 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons sugar

3 tablespoons dark sesame oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons rice or cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon chili oil (optional)

01 Cut the celery into 2-inch lengths. Mix with the salt and 1 teaspoon of the sugar and set aside for 10 minutes while you whisk together the remaining tablespoon of sugar, the sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and chili oil.

02 Rinse, drain, and pat the celery dry, then toss with the dressing. Let stand in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours and up to a day. Serve chilled.

Variations

Ginger-Marinated Celery. With ginger, the celery can cross over to nearly any Asian cuisine: Substitute 1 teaspoon minced or finely julienned peeled ginger for the garlic.

Scallion-Marinated Cucumbers. A bit more work, but with delicious results: Substitute 3 trimmed scallions for the garlic; blanch and shock them, then chop and purГ©e in a food processor or blender with the sesame oil, soy sauce, and vinegar.