In Chinese cooking, cold dishes are not necessarily “cold,” but rather chilled or room-temperature. This is a class of dishes in its own right, called 涼拌菜 (liángbàncài) or 涼菜 (liángcài). While many liangcai dishes are vegetarian, quite a few famous cold dishes center meats: Koushuiji “Saliva” Chicken, Suanni Bairou (Garlic Pork Belly) and Shaoxing Drunken Chicken, for starters. All involve some kind of dressing that gets dipped or tossed with the other components.

At any typical family or shared meal, there are always a few liangcai in rotation. Not only can they be prepared ahead of time by nature, they usually require minimal or no cooking at all. During the warmer months, vegetable liangbans are especially prominent for highlighting the fresh flavor and seasonality of local produce.

All Cold Dishes