Author Notes: Here's a salad that you can eat right away -- with some grilled fish or lamb with cumin, perhaps -- or it can sit around in the fridge for a few days as a mellow pickle to snack on. Adapted very slightly from Hot Sour Salty Sweet by Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid (Artisan Books, 2000). —Genius Recipes
- 1 large or 2 medium European cucumbers
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
- 5 Thai dried chiles, or 3 for milder heat
- 1/2 jalapeño, minced
- 7 Sichuan peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup packed torn cilantro leaves
Peel the cucumber, leaving some thin strips of peel on if you wish, for a decorative effect. Cut lengthwise into quarters and discard the seeds.
Use the flat side of a cleaver or large knife to bash the cucumber pieces several times. Cut the pieces lengthwise into thinner strips, then cut crosswise into 2-inch lengths. Place in a medium bowl.
In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar and sugar. Pour over the cucumber, mix well, and set aside.
Place a wok or skillet over high heat. When it is hot, add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Toss in the dried chiles, jalapeño, and peppercorns and stir-fry for 20-30 seconds. Pour this over the cucumbers. Sprinkle on the salt and mix well.
Mound the salad in a shallow bowl. Sprinkle on the cilantro leaves and serve immediately. Note: The traditional way to make this uses 3 tablespoons of oil, giving a well-oiled texture that may be undesirable. If you wish, try both and see which you prefer.