Sichuan Dressed Cucumber
Salted cucumber preparations are common in many Asian cuisines, particularly in Japan and Korea. This particular variety is Chinese and is pungent with scorched chili, Sichuan peppercorn, and the tang of Black Vinegar…
- ½ an English Cucumber, seeded and cut into 2 inch batons;
- ½ tsp. Salt;
- 1 ½ tbsp. Vegetable Oil;
- ½ tsp. each Sichuan Peppercorn Oil and Sesame Oil;
- 1 ½ tbsp. small dried Chilies (Birdseye are fine);
- 1 tsp. chopped Garlic;
- 1 tbsp. Soy Sauce;
- 1 tbsp. Chinkiang Black Vinegar (or substitute a mild Balsamic);
- 1 tsp. Sugar.
Toss the cucumber pieces with salt and let them sit in a bowl for about 30 minutes to soften and throw off some water. Afterwards, squeeze the pieces really well to remove excess liquid and set aside.
Heat the three oils in a pan over moderate heat and add in the chilies. When they are just beginning to darken, add in the garlic and sauté until the aroma arises. Now, add the rest of the ingredients and stir until the sugar is dissolved and all is heated through.
Pour the dressing over the cumbers and allow them to cool. Let them sit for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavors to penetrate the pieces and then serve. If you leave them for longer than 20 minutes and keep them in the refrigerator, allow them to come back to room temperature before service.
This preparation could easily be served with other ‘small plate’ dishes as a first course to a larger meal, or else simply be a side to something smaller. This particular batch was used as a ‘salad’ accompaniment to miso-grilled, ‘flanken-cut’ ribs…