Here's a salad that you can eat right away -- with some grilled fish or lamb with cumin, perhaps -- or it can sit around in the fridge for a few days as a mellow pickle to snack on. Adapted very slightly from Hot Sour Salty Sweet by Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid (Artisan Books, 2000). —Genius Recipes
4 as a salad or as one of many dishes in a rice meal
large or 2 medium European cucumbers
peanut or vegetable oil
Thai dried chiles, or 3 for milder heat
packed torn cilantro leaves
In This Recipe
Peel the cucumber, leaving some thin strips of peel on if you wish, for a decorative effect. Cut lengthwise into quarters and discard the seeds.
Use the flat side of a cleaver or large knife to bash the cucumber pieces several times. Cut the pieces lengthwise into thinner strips, then cut crosswise into 2-inch lengths. Place in a medium bowl.
In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar and sugar. Pour over the cucumber, mix well, and set aside.
Place a wok or skillet over high heat. When it is hot, add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Toss in the dried chiles, jalapeño, and peppercorns and stir-fry for 20-30 seconds. Pour this over the cucumbers. Sprinkle on the salt and mix well.
Mound the salad in a shallow bowl. Sprinkle on the cilantro leaves and serve immediately.
Note: The traditional way to make this uses 3 tablespoons of oil, giving a well-oiled texture that may be undesirable. If you wish, try both and see which you prefer.
Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink cooking tropes. They're handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacy. They get us talking and change the way we cook. And, once we've folded them into our repertoires, they make us feel pretty genius too. Watch for new Genius Recipes every Wednesday morning on our blog, dug up by Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore.