Sichuan Smacked Cucumbers
By ‘smacking’ the cucumbers in this Sichuan side dish you create more rough surfaces – all the better for soaking up the zingy pickle
- 1 cucumber
- 1 tbsp fine sea salt
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 4 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 tbsp chiu chow chilli oil (see notes)
- 1. Put the cucumber onto a chopping board and use a clean rolling pin to bash the cucumber until it softens and splits in places. Cut the cucumber into quarters lengthways, then into chunky bite-sized pieces. Tip into a bowl, sprinkle with the salt then tip into a colander suspended over a bowl. Leave to salt for 1 hour in the fridge.
- 2. Meanwhile, put the garlic, rice vinegar and caster sugar into a bowl and whisk. Chill while the cucumber salts.
- 3. Run the cucumber under gently running cold water, then drain really well. Tip into a bowl and add the dressing and chilli oil. You can eat straightaway but they will get better the longer they’re left to soak up the marinade.
Chiu chow chilli oil originates from southern China and is made from preserved chilies and garlic blended with soy bean oil. Lee Kum Kee brand is a good one and is available from large supermarkets. Alternativel, you can also try hot bean sauce, la douban jiang, a paste made from fermented soybeans, broad beans, and chilies.