from one generation to the next
My blogger hat blew off just before Christmas, caught in a whirlwind of social events and mundane food preparation, but now summer holidays are in full swing and the pace of life has slowed to a gentler rate and I’m back wishing you a bounty of fresh produce, great food and good health for 2018.
January in Brisbane is hot, they call it “storm season”. While the thermometer may register temperatures in the low 30s the high humidity level intensifies the feeling that your living life in a sauna. Other than fans and aircon, late afternoon tropical storms are the only relief, but often they skirt by us and if we do get a downpour, the modifying affect is welcome but short lived.
The weather intensifies the desire for fresh fruit, cooling salads and cold beer.
Cucumber is a vital ingredient as part of many of the summer salads I serve for week night dinners, but it’s fresh elegantly restrained flavour and delicious crunchy texture give it the kudos to stand alone too.
This is a relatively new salad for us but it’s a salad that has kept me coming back over and over again, not only for the delicious flavour but also for it’s simplicity in preparation. All you need is patience while the salt extracts the excess water from the cucumbers so my tip is to make that your first task when preparing dinner.
Asian Style Smashed Cucumber Salad serves 4
3 Lebanese cucumbers, total weight about 500g
11/2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic infused oil
2 teaspoon light soy (I used tamari)
1 teaspoons Asian toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon castor sugar
1 teaspoon szechuan peppercorns, toasted and ground to a powder
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds, toasted*
1 teaspoon white sesame seeds, toasted
Cut the cucumbers into chunks ensuring that each piece has a piece of skin attached. Put the cucumber on a tray then use a potato masher to gently smash the pieces until they have broken a little. Stop before they become pulp.
Tip the cucumber into a colander and sprinkle over the salt.
Allow the cucumbers to drain on the sink for about 15 minutes.
Rinse off the salt, then pat the cucumber pieces dry with a clean tea towel, then transfer to a bowl.
Whisk together the vinegar, tamari, garlic and sesame oils and sugar.
Pour the dressing over the cucumbers then toss to combine.
Sprinkle over the toasted seeds and peppercorns then serve immediately.
*TIP: When toasting black sesame seeds, mix with some white sesame seeds so it’s easy to see when they have become a toasty colour.