It is ages since I posted a recipe, which is strange really as I do a lot of cooking both for ourselves and for when we entertain, and love finding and trying to recreate new dishes. Needless to say, living in China has given me a whole new area of culinary inspiration.
Having said that, this is a recipe from before we came to live here, but it fits into the whole Anglo-Chinese cooking genre, and it is a winner. Now that Spring has sprung and the temperature rises a little each day, my thoughts have started turning to salads. Of course one can (and we do) eat all kinds of salad and eat them all year round. However, the other night we were having grilled steaks, and this salad just seemed to fit the bill. It is a side salad that goes with steak, or with cold or hot roast chicken….or with ham, whatever.
I urge you to try it, it is incredibly more-ish.
CUCUMBER & PINE NUT SALAD WITH SPICY DRESSING
1 medium/large English cucumber (or 4 smaller snacking cucumbers) 120g pinenuts, toasted in a dry frying pan until golden brown (watch them like a hawk, they burn easily)
4 spring onions (scallions) finely sliced 2 or 3 heaped Tablespoons finely chopped coriander leaf (cilantro)*
Dressing: 25oml white wine/Chinese rice vinegar 125ml sweet chilli sauce 1.5 Tablespoons sesame oil 1 Tablespoon Nam Pla (Thai fish sauce) 1 Tablespoon caster sugar 1 finely chopped clove of garlic
First make the dressing by putting all the ingredients into a small saucepan; stir to dissolve the sugar then boil, uncovered, for about 10 minutes until the dressing has reduced to approximately ¼ cup. Let it stand until cool.
Halve the cucumber lengthwise and use a teaspoon to scrape out the seeds, then cut the cucumber halves into 1cm thick slices (if using snacking cucumbers don’t bother to halve them or remove seeds, just cut them into round slices approx half a cm thick) and place in a serving bowl. Cover with clingfilm.
When ready to serve, add the toasted pine nuts, sliced spring onions, and chopped coriander to the prepared cucumber slices, pour all the dressing over the salad and toss gently together.
Any left-overs will keep fairly well in the fridge for 24 hours, after that the cucumber slices will loose their crunch and the texture will become a little flaccid.
* if you can’t abide coriander you can replace it with chopped flat-leaf parsley. It won’t be quite the same but will still be very good.