Spicy Cucumber Salad
This salad makes for perfect drinking food, best with sips of lightweight Asian lager or a gin and tonic. Lightly smashing cucumbers with a rolling pin helps them soak up a tangy, spicy marinade of vinegar, chile flakes, and mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns.
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- 2 large hot house cucumbers (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
- 3 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp. kosher salt
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 1⁄4 cup vegetable oil
- 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp. crushed red chile flakes
- 1 tsp. Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
- On a work surface, use a rolling pin or heavy can to gently pound each cucumber until it begins to split. Cut each cucumber lengthwise into quarters and then cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Transfer the cucumbers to a bowl and toss with the vinegar, salt, and sugar until evenly combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the vegetable oil and garlic over medium-low and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 12 to 14 minutes. Stir in the chile flakes and peppercorns and remove the pan from the heat. Let the oil cool and then strain into a medium bowl, discarding the solids.
- Remove the cucumbers from the refrigerator, lift the cucumbers and squeeze lightly to drain, and then transfer to the bowl with the chile oil; discard the liquid. Toss the cucumbers with the chile oil and the sesame oil until evenly coated before serving.