Recipe: Sichuan Cucumbers with Orange and Almonds
A sweet and spicy treatment for cucumbers.
21 ounces of salad cucumbers
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
1½ teaspoon dried chili flakes
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
15 raw unsalted almonds
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1. Peel the cucumbers and trim and discard the ends. Slice them at an angle, ¼-inch thick. Toss them in a colander with the salt and let them rest over a bowl or in the sink for 20 minutes. Once they give up their copious liquid, rinse them briefly and pat them as dry as possible with a clean kitchen towel, then transfer to a medium bowl.
2. Meanwhile, in a small skillet over high heat, toast the chili flakes and peppercorns for two to three minutes, until fragrant. Slide the spices into a small bowl to cool. In the same skillet over medium-high heat, toast the almonds, stirring once or twice, until light brown on both sides, about three minutes.
3. In a spice grinder or dedicated coffee mill, grind the spices to a fine powder, then set aside. Grind the almonds finely as well, pulsing them carefully so as not to turn them into nut butter. Add the almonds to the cucumbers, along with the sugar and orange juice. Toss very well to coat evenly. Spread the cucumbers in a shallow dish and sprinkle liberally with the spice powder. Eat immediately, or cover and refrigerate; these will keep for three days.
— Adapted by the Austin American-Statesman from “Asian Pickles: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Cured, and Fermented Preserves from Korea, Japan, China, India, and Beyond,” by Karen Solomon (Ten Speed Press, $19.99).