Monday 2 August 2010

Addictive Chinese Cucumber Salad

When I lived in Hong Kong and travelled to China for business, I was introduced to a kind of cucumber pickle that was served cold just before the meal started. These would be placed at the centre of the table alongside a plate full of whole raw garlic cloves and people would munch their way through them, like they were snacking on peanuts.  I didn't like the whole raw garlic much, but the cucumber pickle was sweet, vinegar-ey and crunchy, and I love that combination! 

This side dish has a very high garlic content, but the heat from this, plus the acidity from the vinegar completely brings this cucumber out of its shy little fruit body and transforms it from boringly neutral to exotically addictive!!

This is a slight variation of the traditional Chinese version, in that I have added some fish sauce to it.  You can omit this and the chillies if you wish, but a little heat works really well against the cool of the cucumber!

2 mini Cucumbers
Half a small red Chilli (optional)

1 1/2 cloves of Garlic
2 tablespoon Rice Vinegar*
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Few drops of sesame oil (optional)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 drops of fish sauce (optional)
Pinch of Salt

Slice up the cucumber into bite sized pieces.   Finely slice the chilli (you can de-seed and de-membrane it if you wish).  Mince the garlic and combine well with all the dressing ingredients until the sugar has completely dissolved. 

Place the cucumber and chilli into a serving dish, and drizzle the dressing over top.  You will want to let the cucumber 'pickle' and absorb all the juices so leave it in the fridge for about twenty to thirty minutes.

Serve as a side dish with fish or meat and rice, this works well with Salmon in Teriyaki Sauce and rice.

Note: You can also top this off with sesame seeds, but I don't like them so I haven't.    

* Use white vinegar as a substitute

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