Smashed Cucumbers with Chinese Black Vinegar

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The Pasta Man is a young lawyer from Washington, DC. He cooks a lot of pasta and other things, too. He blogs at www.thepastamanblog.com.

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If you’re anything like me, you’re always on the look-out for healthy, delicious, vegetable-based side dishes that come together quickly and can be on hand for almost any meal. Ta-da! Here’s a recipe that doesn’t involve any cooking, just some pantry ingredients (well, they’re in my pantry — you might need to buy them, but then you’ll have them) mixed up in the Magic Bullet for a delicious, and indeed authentically Chinese, side dish. The use of Chinese black (Chinkiang) vinegar here gives a distinctive, vaguely smoky tang, and you can mix up as many or as few other Chinese ingredients to provide as simple or as complex a dish as you like. My version is spicy with sweetness from sugar, depth of flavor from sesame oil and soy, and a good bit of bite from fresh garlic.

Plus, if you have a flair for the dramatic, you can smash these cucumbers with a side of a cleaver (the smashing apparently helps them soak up the dressing) to really impress your friends. Or you can just smush them down on the cutting board, like I did. Up to you, really.

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Smashed Cucumbers with Chinese Black Vinegar Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cucumber, peeled if you like, smashed on the counter then cut roughly into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tbl Chinese black (Chinkiang) vinegar
  • 1 tbl roasted peanuts
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp hot chili oil (optional)

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Instructions

  1. Blend peanuts in the Magic Bullet until roughly chopped. Remove to bowl.
  2. Blend garlic in the Magic Bullet. Add vinegar, oils, sugar, and soy sauce and blend just slightly.
  3. Toss cucumbers with vinegar blend in a big bowl. Serve, garnishing with peanuts.

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