I was making mapo douf for dinner and I decided that a cucumber side dish would be nice. Since the last time I made this dish I discovered crispy chili oil. While using Sichuan chili oil would be an appropriate choice, it is such a production to make that a commercial version is sometimes useful to have on hand.
Note: I originally bought this brand of chili oil, because it was the only one that did not contain garlic and onions—something that daughter Miriam has been having trouble with lately.
Karl’s Chinese Smashed Cucumber Pickles II
1 Tbs. vinegar
½ Tbs. black vinegar
½ Tbs. dark soy
½ Tbs. crispy chili oil
2 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. dark sesame oil
½ tsp. Kosher salt
2-4 Japanese or Persian cucumbers
⅛ tsp. white sesame
1. Mix all of the sauce ingredients n a medium bowl.
2. Trim off the ends of the cucumbers and cut them in half lengthwise.
Tip: If you add the last bit of the stem end of the cucumber, the bitterness will spread into your entire dish.
Note: These are bitter compounds in the last half inch of the stem end of cucumbers. This prevents animals from eating the entire seed producing fruit of the plant.
3. Lay the sliced cucumbers cut side down on a mat and smash them with a heavy spoon.
Tip: You are not trying to mash them to a pulp, you are just trying to break them up a bit.
4. Cut the cucumbers lengthwise again and slice the cucumber spears into 1 to 1½ inch pieces.
5. Toss the cucumber pieces in the sauce to coat.
6. Let the cucumbers marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Tip: It is better to let the pickles marinate overnight. Transfer the cucumbers and sauce to a sealable plastic bag and refrigerate it.
7. Drain the pickles and transfer them to a serving bowl;
8. Garnish the pickles with white sesame seeds.