Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Spicy Szechuan Smashed Cucumbers...


I adore pickles and refreshingly crunchy tart sides with just about everything. But when it comes to Asian cuisine, especially Szechuan, it`s a must! Beyond Szechuan cuisine`s spicy dishes, one thing you`ll notice is their love of cold, vinegary, crunchy veggies or peanuts in between bites of their heartier stuff. Spicy smashed cucumbers is a humble and fond example of these sides, and hands-down one of my absolute favourites! Smashing the cucumbers helps them rapidly absorb the flavour of the spicy vinaigrette and loads of garlic! With this hot weather upon us, this kind of cooling full-on-flavour side will be gracing my table many-a-nights! Oh yeaaaah!!!!


Smashed Spicy Szechuan Cucumbers 

1 long cucumber or 3 Lebanese cucumbers
1 Tbsp. peanut or vegetable oil
4 to 6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp. Sichuan peppercorns (see Note)
3 dried red chillies 

2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar 
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. chilli oil sauce (see Note)
2 tsp. white sugar
2 tsp. toasted white sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)

Note :
Sichuan peppercorns are the dried red-brown berries from an ash tree and are known to have a slight mouth-numbing effect and lemony undertone.
• Chilli oil sauce, from Asian food shops, consists of chilli flakes, chilli oil and spices. Substitute 2 tsp. chilli flakes in 1 Tbsp. chilli oil.



Place the washed cucumber on a firm, flat, clean surface. Whack it firmly but gently with the flat side of a heavy cleaver or the bottom an 8-inch skillet. Repeat all down its length until it is completely smashed. Chop the cucumber crosswise into 1-inch pieces and transfer to a colander or strainer set in a bowl. 


Toss with a big pinch of salt and a big pinch of sugar. Let drain 15 to 30 minutes on the counter, or in the refrigerator until ready to serve, up to 4 hours. Discard the extracted liquid and transfer the cucumbers to the bowl.


Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add half the garlic, peppercorns and chillies, and cook for one minute or until fragrant, making sure not to burn or garlic will taste bitter.

Whisk together vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, chilli oil sauce, sugar and remaining raw garlic in a bowl until sugar dissolves. Stir in warm garlic mixture, then add cucumbers and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes to allow flavours to develop and cucumbers to soften slightly.


Toss with both part toasted and raw garlic for a duo garlicky taste explosion for the garlic lover in you!


Spicy, Sour Sweet and Salty and a whole lotta crunch!! So refreshingly deeelish!


Spicy cucumbers served as a complementary palate cleanser in between bites of our family DIY Sushi roll dinner! More on this meal to come...




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