Monday, 11 June 2012

Feast from the East

I've been back from my trip to China for a week now, and I still feel like I'm getting over the jet lag!

It's an amazing place, stuffed full of history and intrigue at every turn. However, for a country whose religious population is predominantly Buddhist, China's not the great vegetarian Mecca you might think, as Chinese Buddhists happily tend to eat meat, and many vegetable dishes contain pork for flavouring. However, there were a couple of really delicious dishes that I was party to out there, and here's my recipe for one of my favourites. It's a really simple cucumber salad, where the cucumber has a very spicy tang due to marinading with chilli. Great as a pick-me-up in hot weather, this serves as the perfect accompaniment to Western and Chinese-style dishes.

Spicy cucumber and chilli salad

4 dessert spoons of sesame oil
1 red chilli, sliced into rounds
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 small cucumbers (the short stumpy ones are best, not the large smooth ones that are most common in the UK)
2 dessert spoons cider vinegar

1. Very gently heat the oil in a saucepan with the chilli and garlic. It should not bubble or spit, but should just become slightly warm, so that you could drip it on your hand without being burned.

2. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl. Allow to rest until it reaches room temperature. This allows the flavours to develop.

3. When the oil has reached room temperature, add in the cider vinegar and mix. Peel the cucumber and slice into rounds. Mix with the dressing. Allow to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes, then serve.

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