Chinese Cucumber Salad
This Szechuan dish is made by heating cucumbers in a spicy dressing with red wine vinegar and freshly chopped red chili pepper. Cucumber Salad Serves 4.
1. De-seed the Cucumber
1. Cut 2 cucumbers in half lengthwise. Use a small spoon or a melon baller to scoop out the seeds in the middle. (You can peel the cucumbers first if desired).
2. Thinly slice the Cucumber
Cut the cucumber diagonally into thin slices, no more than 1/2 inch thick.
3. Salt the Cucumber Slices
Lay the cucumber in a colander and sprinkle with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Leave for at least 1 hour. Note: I find that weighing down the cucumbers during salting so they release more water keeps them crisp and helps prevent a watery dressing from collecting at the bottom of the bowl. I used 2 resealable plastic bags about 3/4 full with water; you can also use a saucer.
Lay out the cucumber slices on paper towels and squeeze out any excess water.
4. Prepare the Dressing
In a small bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon Chinese light soy sauce and 1 teaspoon brown sugar.
5. Prepare the Chili Pepper
Cut a long, fresh red chili pepper in half, remove the seeds and chop into pieces.
6. Cook the Chili Pepper
Heat 1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil on medium heat, swirling the pan so that it coats the bottom. Add the chopped chili pepper and heat for about 30 seconds, stirring.
7. Add the Sauce
Re-stir the red wine vinegar, soy sauce and sugar mixture and pour it into the wok. Heat briefly, stirring to blend the flavors.
8. Add the Cucumbers
Add the cucumbers and cook briefly (no more than 1 minute), stirring to heat thorough.
9. You're Done!
You can serve the salad hot immediately, or cover and chill before serving.