Spicy Cold Celery


I was surprised by how much I like the 101 Easy Asian Recipes book that was published by Lucky Peach last year. I am ambivalent about the magazine, in which I find both brilliance and bro-ness, but the book doesn’t have any of the tone-baggage that the magazine sometimes suffers from. As the title promises, it is a collection of genuinely easy to prepare Asian recipes. The authors (“Peter Meehan and the editors of Lucky Peach”) gave themselves two rules when creating recipes for the book, no deep frying and no recipes containing sub-recipes (as in, a recipe that requires you to execute multiple other recipes to complete). It is informative and breezy. I especially like the guide to ingredients at the front of the book. It is the kind of book I will cook from a lot. In fact, I already have and have liked every recipe I tried.


I especially like this simple celery salad that is easy to prepare and a nice compliment to a main course, especially a heavy, meaty one. It is fresh and spicy and keeps for a couple of days in the fridge. I also like this recipe because it encouraged me to get a jar of spicy chili crisp (the lid of which is pictured above—I love her attitude problem), which is a condiment that I now hope to always have in my fridge.

On a totally unrelated note: Some of my best travel recommendation have come from you, my dear readers. We’re headed to Iceland in a couple of months—Reykjavik and the West and South coasts. We are looking for all of your best places to eat/drink/shop/etc.. Comment? Shoot me an email? Would appreciate your advice.


Spicy Cold Celery (from Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes)

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon spicy chili crisp or chili oil
  • 4-5 large celery stalks, sliced thinly on an angle (about 2 1/2 cups)

Stir together the soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, sugar, and chili crisp is a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Add the celery and toss to coat it in the dressing. Let stand for a few minutes before eating. This will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, so you might as well make a double batch.

32 comments to “Spicy Cold Celery”

  1. Definitely trying this soon! I love that spicy chili crisp. So good on so many things. If you haven’t already, you need to try this:
    Celery is SO underrated!

  2. Hi Kelly- Haven’t tried that yet, but I will soon! Looks amazing. Thanks for the recommendation.

  3. Where can I find spicy chili crisp?

  4. Hi Susan- Both of the larger supermarkets in my town carry it, so it might not be that hard to find. Otherwise, it is easily found online.

  5. I love to cook Chinese and it’s not always easy so I’ll have to check out this book. … I’ve been to Iceland several times, most recently two summers ago when we went to Iceland for a few days and then took a Hurtigruten ship from Reykjavik over to Greenland, around the southern tip and then up the west coast to Ilulissat and eventually back to Kangerlussuaq to fly home. I’m leaving Sunday for Norway (again) but I’ll write after I get back home.

  6. Bon voyage, Louise!

  7. Definitely agree with you on all counts–I love the cookbook, but am decidedly on the fence about the magazine, and it’s all about its tone. “Bro-ness” sums it up really well, and I hate to think it makes me show my age, but the prevalence of profanity, and the intentionally unattractive photos really turn me off.

  8. THAT SAUCE GIVES LIFE MEANING. No kidding. We’re obsessed. That and a bowl of white rice and dinner is served.

  9. We were in Iceland about 3 1/2 years ago (and hope to return this summer! :-)) so things might be a bit different now, but if it’s still around, definitely check out the restaurant ‘Dill’ in Reykjavik. It’s fine dining, but we found that ‘fine’ dinning was cheaper there than here (North America) whereas casual dinning was a lot more expensive. With that said, hot dogs are pretty popular.

    I’d also really recommend doing the ‘Golden Circle Tour’ — the Geyser is super-cool — and stopping off at the Blue Lagoon for a spa-day (the Icelandic stew they serve in their dining room is pretty tasty too.)

    Bon Voyage!

  10. Dill in Reykjavik is worth the splurge. The gastro pub in the Kex Hostel is also delish.

  11. This sounds delicious. I love celery and I love the sound of that spicy chili crisp. I’ve bought something similar from a Japanese grocery but will look for this one in a Chinese market. Have fun in Iceland – my friend who went last summer said the air freshness was unbelievable and she loved Kex in Reykjavik for amazing food and Mikkeller & Friends Reykjavík for beers.

  12. Thanks for all of these Iceland suggestions, friends!

  13. My husband and I have been to Iceland twice now, just short trips stopping off when flying from Canada to other parts of Europe and it is one of our favourite places. We shall return again and again. My tips…
    This shop has lovely stuff: http://kraum.is

    This hotdog stand is the one to go to and get one with “everything”. http://www.bbp.is/#_=_

    If you’re not renting a car in Reykjavik I’d recommend doing a jeep tour of the golden circle with Arctic adventures (our tour ended up just being the two of us and our driver was incredible, learnt so much about Iceland as it is, post 2008). And if you’re into it go snorkeling in Thingvellir National park, one of only two rift valleys in the world. You snorkel (in a dry suit) in cracks in the earth cause by the tectonic plates pulling apart. It is also the site of the world’s first parliament.

    This museum is very cool- a long house discovered during excavation for another building project: http://www.whygoiceland.com/871-the-settlement-museum.html

    This place had delicious fish and chips: http://www.fishandchips.is

    The Blue Lagoon, while very touristy, is pretty cool. There is a hotel attached, which is usually used by people there to get actual treatment but the rooms are lovely, and open right out onto the lava field. And they have very basic, but delicious, breakfast included and whilst you get to use the main lagoon pool, the hotel part has it’s own pool as well that you can use (though there are specific treatment times that it is closed).

    I’ll stop now. But seriously, Iceland is the best. I’d move there in a heartbeat. I am yet to see the northern lights while there but I wish for you clear skies!

  14. Dear Tim,

    For a great Iceland travel article check out Oh, Ladycakes under the following link:


    Have a wonderful time!

  15. This sounds tasty.  I learned a slightly different variation years ago from a Japanese  co-worker.  It’s the tastiest celery dish I’ve eaten to date.  

    She cut the celery into short, slender matchsticks & _very_ briefly stir-fried them before dressing them.  In addition to just slightly taking the edge off of the raw celery, dressing it while warm helps it better absorb the flavors from the dressing.

    The oil, soy sauce, & vinegar proportions are about the same although she used tamari sauce.  Instead of adding sugar her recipe used a bit of mirin for sweetness which is added to the celery along with the other 3 liquids while the celery is still warm.  Finally, sprinkle the mixture generously with sesame seeds & toss together.  It’s a dish that is good warm from the pan, cold from the fridge, or room temp as she often served it on picnics.

  16. I liked this book a lot, too. I think part of the appeal is that you can actually make the recipes without three trips to various markets. And the tone of the book isn’t apologizing for inauthenticity, so you can relax, and make the recipes without fear of reproach from the authenticity police. They’re uncomplicated and the underlying “fun” of the book makes it completely accessible.

  17. Agreed, David. I kind of hope it becomes a series of books….

  18. It does not matter where you eat it, but have their typical snack / light meal of a piece of their black bread cooked underground using geothermal heat, spread with Icelandic butter an topped with smoked trout and a hard boiled egg. Wonderful.

  19. While I’m thinking of it, if possible, take a look at a phone book in Iceland. Here’s why http://www.exploreiceland.is/surnames.html?itemid=84cb76e6-461a-4c5d-bc85-4a9813e4c64b

  20. that celery looks incredible. where did the name “chili crisp” come from? I’m curious since I can’t think of anything remotely crisp in the sauce :P
    we in our Chinese household call it ‘lao gan ma’, loosely translated to ‘old lady’, after the woman on the lid who created the glorious stuff. that is actually what the three characters on the lid underneath the woman’s face say. regardless of the name, it is our version of tabasco, and we put it on everything!

  21. I feel the same way about Lucky Peach so haven’t tried too hard to find and read their book but you have made me change my mind. I love Asian, but don’t cook it that often. Looking forward to some new Asian inspiration soon!

  22. Christine says:

    March 1st, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    Iceland is great. Hotel 101 in Reykjavik is Scandinavian cool.

  23. Iceland: just had the set menus here http://hofnin.is/en/. Reindeer, fish soup, lamb with oats & hot choc pud with liquorice ice cream. Our table was between the Jackie Chan film crews…..odd.
    My Concept Store on Laugavegur 45 smells divine.
    We used Discover Island for jeep tours. Gummie and Hawk look like Vikings and could be extras on Games Thrones!

  24. My sister and I did a tour of West/South Iceland in October and loved it! For a quick bite in the city check out the Sea Barron. Fresh fish kabobs, lobster soup, and hot bread. On your way West consider the Settlement museum and lunch buffet. The day we went was a collection of fresh vegetarian salads and sides and the best red pepper coconut soup. You’ll love Iceland – it’s a little far but the glacier lagoon out West is worth the trip.

  25. i love YOUR attitude problem!

    in iceland… i only have stupid jokes.

  26. We went to Iceland in October last year, hired a car and drove along the South coast for 8 days. I wish we’d stayed for 2-3 weeks so that we could do the whole Ring Road.
    We had a nice breakfast at Bergsson Mathus, and loved dinner at Matur og Drykkur (where they take old/traditional Icelandic dishes and give them a modern spin).
    Absolutely loved Jokulsarlon lagoon and beach, hiking on the glacier and Svartifoss waterfall at Skaftafell National Park, Gljúfrabúi waterfall, the basalt columns at Vik… such a magical place!

  27. Holy smokes, this celery is ridiculously good! I went to our local international market to hunt down this ingredient. It was fun looking forget stern face among all the jars. The mix of chili and toasted onion is so good in this quickle. I’m already thing of other dishes and dressings I can use it in. Hmmmm, maybe in a jersey marinade…

  28. Oooh, Iceland, enjoy! We spent 2 weeks in and around the same areas you are headed to this past July. My main tip, if it could be called one, is that there are many many many people in Iceland looking to home exchange with the US- so your stay there could be free! We also exchanged cars, making it a totally affordable trip for our family our 4. We met our family through homeexchange.com. (Not sponsored, of course!). Have a great trip either way!

  29. We call that addictive spicy chili crisp sauce “Angry Lady sauce” around these parts.

  30. Mary Anne says:

    May 2nd, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    wow wow wow, we’re going to Iceland tooooo! We’re going the last week of July. What about you? Lezz talk…

  31. Mary Anne says:

    May 2nd, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    Also, I recently acquired this cookbook and hadn’t cooked anything from it yet. Oh except the chap chae bap! Which was delish! Gotta try this celery!

  32. I agree that the book seems to transcend some of the limits of the magazine: plus the recipes are often a lot of fun.

    I’m very excited about their new book: Power Vegetables. I hope it captures the magic of this one.

What do you think?