Killer cucumber & wild rice salad

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It is best to use a mandoline to slice the cucumbers – you really do want a very soft, curled, liquor-rich cucumber mass. The salt is used to flavour, but also to draw the liquid out of the cucumbers.

It is the sharp, sweet, cleansing tang of this salad’s liquor that will drive you to demolish it in minutes. This is a fantastic Eastern European salad that is used as an accompaniment to heavy meat dishes. The liquor that is produced in the combination of the cucumber juices – sweet, sharp and salty – is utterly addictive.

Prep: 20 minutes, plus chilling
Cook: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 115 g/4 oz/½ cup wild rice, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled and very finely sliced
  • 6 tbsp distilled vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp garlic purée
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp chopped dill
  • 3 tbsp sour cream

Method

Put the wild rice in a heavy-based saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 30–40 minutes, checking the rice frequently. Once it is cooked but al dente, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Leave to one side.

Take a large salad bowl and add the cucumbers and all the other ingredients except the dill and the sour cream. Mix thoroughly. Do not be afraid of the cucumber becoming soft and leaching out its water. This is the aim and texture you are looking for.

Now add the wild rice. Stir in gently and put the salad in the refrigerator for around 1 hour. Truth be told, I have always eaten this freshly tossed and unrefrigerated, but allowing it to rest in the refrigerator increases the absorption of the juices into the rice grains.

Before serving, stir in the sour cream and sprinkle the chopped dill over the salad. Serve in a small bowl and don’t try to pretend that it’s not all about the killer liquor.