I found three Japanese cucumbers lurking at the bottom of my fridge the other day. They were a little past their absolute prime though by no means badly compromised. But there were plans to go out for dinner that night and the next few days, so leaving the cukes to languish was not a wise option, especially when one is trying to be mindful of food waste. So I did the next best thing and turned them into pickles. Time is no longer of the essence.
These are flavoured with ginger, garlic and Szechuan peppercorns with a touch of chilli flakes. Sautéing the chilli together with the garlic and ginger helps to coax out the piquant hot flavours, while the Sichuan peppercorns give it a lift of anise. The cucumbers remain nice and crunchy.
Serve this on the side with noodles, grilled meat, or even in burgers for a Chinese touch.
Szechuan Cucumber Pickles
3 Japanese cucumbers, sliced
1 tbsp salt
1 heaped tbsp of finely chopped ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 – 1 tsp dried Szechuan peppercorns
1/2 tsp chilli flakes (more if you like it hot)
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp neutral cooking oil
2 tsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice or neutral white vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
Mix the cucumbers and salt and let it stand for 15 mins to draw out the moisture. Rinse and pat with kitchen towels to dry.
Heat the oils in a wok or pan, and saute the garlic, ginger, chilli flakes and peppercorns for about 30 seconds until it is fragrant.
Add in the cucumbers, soy sauce, vinegar and sugar. Cook until the liquid comes to a boil and the sugar has dissolved. You can adjust the amount of sugar and soy sauce at this point to your liking.
Set it aside to cool then pop it into the refrigerator to chill. Serve it nice and cold.
Keeps for about 1 week.