The World's Greatest Cucumber Salad

After, whatever, ten or more years of less-meatarianism, or whatever you want to call it, I once again recognize, or want to make some noise about, the importance of the stir-fry. I wrote at least once that the stir-fry is among the three most important recipes in anyone’s repertoire (the others: rice and beans, and chopped salad), and in large part that’s because a) you can vary the technique infinitely and b) the stir-fry is, at its soul, a low-meat dish.

What it’s not, to me at least, is a one-pan dinner: It wants a salad, or something fresh, raw, crisp. That’s where the chopped salad comes in, but although I’m not against having a European-oriented salad with an Asian-oriented stir-fry, there are times—like earlier this week, for me—when you’re dying for Sichuan-style cucumbers. Especially at this time of year, when cucumbers get more plentiful and crisper every day.

The combination of chile, Sichuan peppercorns (these ones are good), and garlic simply kills what, growing up, I knew as “cucumber salad”—mayonnaise and/or sour cream and dill. The changeover is as if both me and cucumber salad grew up. For a high-impact, high-flavor salad that’s both refreshing and stimulating, there is nothing better.

Here's my take. My recommendation is that you start with this level of seasoning and then taste, taste, taste: You might want more soy, chile, garlic, and so on. It’s unlikely you’ll want less.

—Mark


Refreshing, bright and buzzing with Sichuan peppercorns and chile, this dish bears no resemblance to the cucumber salads of my youth (and it's pretty perfect).

CUCUMBER SALAD, SICHUAN-STYLE


Talk To Me, Goose!

Questions, comments, brilliant suggestions? Just want to share the recipe for your grandma's potato salad, or your mom's meatloaf, or your uncle Drew's three-day 100-percent rye loaf (yes, please)? Don't hesitate to reach out anytime.