Ma-la cucumber fans

Yield: 4 servings

Measure Ingredient
½ pounds Cucumbers, Japanese, or Kirby
1 teaspoon Salt, kosher
1½ teaspoon Oil, peanut OR
1½ teaspoon Oil, corn
1 teaspoon Ginger, thinly cut
1½ teaspoon Garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon Chili, red, dry, flakes
¼ teaspoon Peppercorns, Szechuan, brown
½ teaspoon Soy sauce
1 tablespoon Vinegar, rice
1½ tablespoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Oil, sesame

Remove the tips from the cucumbers, then cut them up into 2-inch lengths. Grasp cucumber lengthwise between chopsticks held in a V-shape on a cutting board, then cut the cucumber crosswise at ⅛-inch intervals into a fan (chopsticks prevent knife from cutting clear through the cucumber.)

Toss the cucumbers with salt and set aside for thirty minutes to soften.

Drain, rinse with cold water, then press gently between palms to remove excess water.

Heat a wok or medium-size heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot enough to sizzle a bead of water slowly. Add corn or peanut oil, swirl to glaze bottom, then reduce heat to low.

When hot enough to sizzle a ginger thread, add ginger, garlic, chili, and peppercorns. Toss until fully fragrant, about ten seconds, then add a pinch more chili if your nose tells you it's needed.

Add cucumber, toss to combine, then add soy, vinegar, sugar, and sesame oil. Toss until sugar dissolves and liquid is hot.

Taste and adjust with a bit more sugar if needed to bring out the full flavor of the chili. Scrape the mixture into a shallow bowl and set aside to cool, stirring occasionally.

Before serving, remove most of the peppercorns.

Source: Great Chefs of San Francisco, Avon Books, 1984 Chef: Barbara Tropp, China Moon, San Francisco, CA

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