Cucumber Salad

Liangban Huanggua

Preparation info

    Appears in

    Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook

    By Ellen Schrecker

    Published 1976

    • About

    Meal: Easy, Cold

    It was a tradition in the Szechwanese restaurants of Taipei for the waiters to place several little plates of food on the table while you ordered your dinner. A few pickles or peanuts or a little cucumber salad stimulated the appetite and provided a delicious foretaste of the coming meal.

    This cucumber salad is essentially the same as that served in Szechwanese restaurants. Mrs. Chiang usually serves it as a regular vegetable dish instead of as an hors d’oeuvre, but it can also be used as a salad in a Western-style meal. Since it is a cold dish, it can be prepared in advance. Mrs. Chiang recalls that her mother’s cucumber salad was so spicy it actually numbed her mouth when she ate it. This version is not so hot and can be made without any peppery condiments at all.

    Method

    Preparation

    2 cucumbers Peel the cucumbers. Cut each one in half crosswise and then again in half lengthwise; scoop out the seedy pulp in the middle. Smash each piece of cucumber with the flat side of your cleaver (this makes the cucumbers more absorbent), then cut the cucumbers into strips about 2 inches long by ½ inch wide.
    1 teaspoon salt

    Put the strips in a bowl, sprinkle the salt over them, and mix thoroughly. Set aside for at least 10 minutes at room temperature.

    Drain the cucumbers and squeeze out all the excess liquid with your hands.

    3 scallions Clean the scallions, then smash each one with the flat side of the cleaver. Cut the scallions, both green part and white, into 2-inch lengths and add them to the cucumbers.
    4 cloves garlic Smash the garlic cloves with the flat side of your cleaver, then peel. Chop the garlic coarsely, into pieces about the size of grains of uncooked rice. Add the garlic to the cucumbers.

    1-½ tablespoons soy sauce

    ½ teaspoon sesame oil

    1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

    ½ teaspoon granulated sugar

    ½ teaspoon ground roasted Szechwan peppercorns (optional)

    1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes in oil (optional)

    Now add the soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, sugar, optional ground roasted Szechwan peppercorns, and optional hot pepper flakes in oil. (If you omit the two optional ingredients, the salad will be considerably less spicy and not at all hot. In that case, you may need to increase the amount of vinegar and sesame oil you use. But taste the cucumbers first before you do.) Mix the salad well.