When we were in China, this dish turned up everywhere…and we couldn’t get enough of it. Fortunately for us, this was one of the side dishes that we learned to prepare during our Chinese cooking class.
I don’t know a lot about cucumbers, other than the fact that I love them, but I did a little research and here’s what I found out. The good news is that cucumbers (eaten raw and with the peel) are low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. Cucumbers are also a good source of Vitamins A, C and K , and various minerals. The bad news is that a large part of the calories in this food come from sugars. But, I’m not sure that I consider 8 calories and 1 gram of sugar for a half a cup of sliced cucumbers to be so terrible.
The cooking school’s official name for this recipe is Sour and Spicy Cold Dish (Sichuan Style). And, although we have not tried any variation on this recipe, our teacher let us know that it is common in China for the cucumber to be substituted with either julienned carrot or cold noodles.
It has been so hot here in NYC this past week. The last thing either of us have felt like doing is cooking, and especially anything that will further heat up the apartment. So we turned to this unbelievably easy to make and extremely delicious dish and served it up with a simple piece of poached fish. We, and the apartment, remained, well, cool as a cucumber.
Sour and Spicy Cold Dish (Sichuan Style)
1 English cucumber, unpeeled
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Chili oil, to taste
Evenly bash cucumber with a rolling pin, to bruise and make the flesh less firm and more absorbent for flavorings. Cut into bite size pieces. Mix with sauce and seasonings and serve.