Spicy Cucumber Salad
In this salad, the cucumbers are first dressed with a little vinegar, then dressed again with hot oil. The contrast of smooth chile-warm oil and crisp fresh cucumber is a knockout. The salad has a mild but not aggressive heat made with the 5 dried red chiles. Note that the cucumbers will soften if they’re left standing, so don’t pour the hot oil over them until just before you wish to serve the salad.
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.
Serves4 as a salad or as one of many dishes in a rice meal
Total Timeunder 15 minutes
OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party
Recipe Coursecold appetizer, side dish
Dietary Considerationcold appetizer, side dish
Taste and Texturecrisp, herby, hot & spicy, savory
Type of Dishfirst course salad
- 1 large or 2 medium European cucumbers (1 to 1¼ pounds)
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
- 5 Thai dried red chiles, or 3 for milder heat
- ½ jalapeno, minced
- 7 Sichuan peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup packed torn coriander leaves
Peel the cucumber, leaving some thin strips of peel on if you wish, for a decorative effect. Cut lengthwise into quarters and scrape off 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, jalapeno, and peppercorns and stir-fry for 20 to 30 seconds. Pour this over the cucumbers. Sprinkle on the salt and mix well.
Mound the salad in a shallow bowl. Sprinkle on the coriander leaves and serve immediately.
2000 Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Dugid