Sunday, April 15, 2012

涼拌黃瓜 (Liáng bàn huáng guā - Pickled Cucumber Salad)

A side dish I ate as a snack throughout my childhood is a tangy, crunchy, slightly sweet bowl of pickled cucumbers and radishes. I watched Grandma turn freshly picked cucumbers from the garden that smelled of sunshine into nearly transparent disks that would later pop in my mouth. Our garden doesn't have cucumbers yet but when we do, this will be a great way to enjoy them!

The measurements below are approximate. I have never seen Grandma use a measuring cup or a measuring spoon. 

Prep: 15 minutes     Yield: ~1 cup     Wait Time: 1 hour or more

~1 cucumber
~5 radishes
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 Thai chili, minced (optional, if heat desired)
  1. Thinly slice washed vegetables. Use a mandolin if you have one, if not, sharpen that knife and watch those fingers!
  2. In a large bowl, let cucumber and radishes sit with salt for 5-10 minutes. Don't let it sit too long or your end up with very salty vegetables! This salting process draws out the water in the vegetables to keep its crunch.
  3. Rinse the vegetables with cold water; use a colander or strainer to make this easy without losing any vegetables down the drain. Set aside.
  4. In a small container with a non-leaky lid (I usually use a glass container with a lid but opted for a washed out pint-sized gelato container this time because all glass containers were in use), stir together rice vinegar and sugar until dissolved. Add vegetables and chili (if desired). Close container, shake it up gently. For a stronger flavor, marinate in fridge overnight. Otherwise an hour can do!
  5. Enjoy!

Note: There are many variants to this dish. Some prefer peeling the cucumbers. Some prefer slicing the cucumbers in chunks instead of thin disks. Others add carrots. Be creative!

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