If you’re a chilli addict like me, you’ll love this dish.
For this is no ordinary cucumber salad. This dish was inspired by the ‘hot salad’ we used to buy from the Xinjiang restaurant opposite our old apartment in downtown Shanghai.
Xinjiang food refers mainly to Uyghur cuisine and is characterised by the use of lamb, mutton, tomatoes, peppers (capsicum) and onion, with lots of dumpling, noodle and rice dishes. Our favourite dishes were this salad, completely addictive mutton kebabs flavoured with cumin, Szechuan peppercorns and chilli (watch out for an upcoming recipe), and a fragrant lamb pie.
When my husband was travelling – his job took him all over the Asia Pacific – I would sometimes stop at the Xinjiang restaurant on my way home from work. My regular order was six mutton kebabs, this hot salad, and a serve of rice.
This smashed cucumber salad is a wonderful study in contrasts; it’s lip tinglingly hot yet cooling at the same time. It’s a great side dish to any kind of barbequed meat.
4 small Lebanese cucumbers
2 small tomatoes
1/5 diced small Spanish red onion
1 small clove garlic, diced
1 teaspoon salt
Rice wine vinegar
Peel cucumbers and chop off ends. With the flat side of a cleaver, smash them on a chopping board so they split lengthwise.
Cut the smashed cucumbers into medium slices.
Put them into a bowl and add one teaspoon salt. Mix to combine and then cover and leave for half an hour.
After 30 minutes, a few teaspoons of water will have drained from the cucumbers into the bowl. Drain the cucumbers and rinse with water to remove some of the salt. Drain cucumbers again and place back into a serving bowl.
Add diced onion, diced tomato and diced garlic.
Dress with a few shakes of chilli oil and sesame oil and 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar. Taste then add more of whatever you fancy until it tastes the way you want it to.
Me? I like it hot, hot, hot!