Thursday, January 25, 2007

Cucumber Salad

I love this salad. It's really easy to make and makes a great side dish. Looks like a lot of steps, but it's pretty easy.

This is not great made ahead, the cucumbers turn into pickles when they sit in the dressing. Nice, but not salad.

Thai (?) Cucumber Salad

For two:

  • 1/2 an English cucumber (this is the cuke you see in the supermarket that is shrinkwrapped in plastic)
  • 1-2 scallions or green onions (optional)
  • 1 lime (2 limes if your lime is not very juicy)
  • fish sauce
  • rice vinegar
  • brown or white sugar
  • chili flakes or chopped fresh chili to taste
  • garlic
  • 1 handful peanuts (dry roasted, roasted, whatever you've got)
  • a half handful of herbs like cilantro, mint, parsley, cut or torn into small pieces (optional, but good)

Peel the cucumber if you want (I am lazy, I do not). Cut the cucumber in half the long way. Cut the two long haves into half moons - depending on your taste, they can be wafer thin to 1/4"ish. Slice your scallion into small rounds, or be really stylish and cut in into thin, angled slivers. Put cukes and scallions into a bowl.

If you want (I like to), toast your peanuts in a skillet or the oven. I like it if some get the tiniest bit "burny"around the edges. Whether you toasted or not, chop up your peanuts into slightly smaller pieces (also optional, you can always use whole peanuts and not chop 'em up). Set aside.

Dressing: this is very much where your taste plays a role. I use 1 juicy lime for this size salad. Squeeze lime into a bowl or jar. Add fish sauce (about half as much as the lime juice, maybe less - shake some in and taste - you don't want it too salty). Add a splash of rice wine vinegar. Add a little sugar (teaspoon or less). I do not like a sweet dressing, some do ... if you are one of the some, add more sugar to taste. Adjust the dressing with a little water - you don't want it too salty, but you should be able to taste sour, salty and sweet. Adjust the ingredients to taste. Press in one small garlic clove and sprinkle in red pepper flakes to taste. Shake the jar, or stir to blend.

Pour dressing over cukes, toss on herbs and peanuts. Toss. Enjoy.

You can add grilled shrimp on top to make this more of a main dish. Nice in summer.

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