SPICY CUCUMBER SALAD
Adapted from Land of Plenty, by Fuchsia Dunlop
1 English cucumber
2 tablespoons peanut oil
8 long dried red chiles, snipped into 1-inch sections
2 teaspoons whole Sichuan peppercorns
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and pulp with a spoon, and then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick half-moons.
Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add the peanut oil and swirl around to cover the base of the wok. Turn the heat down to medium-high and then add the chilies and Sichuan pepper. Cook for a few seconds until they smell deliciously spicy and the chilies are turning a darker red color. Take great care not to burn the spices.
Toss in the cucumber pieces and stir for about 30 seconds to heat and coat them in the flavored oil, adding salt to taste. Remove from the heat, add the sesame oil and stir thoroughly. The cucumber should not be cooked through, just swiftly heated so that it absorbs the flavor of the spices. Allow to cool before serving.
Yield: 4 servings