It's sometimes hard to get excited about cucumber, particular when they are 'straight from the fridge cold' and sliced into slightly uninspiring rounds. Cucumbers are 96% water, they have a lovely clean, crunchy texture but need a little helping hand to bring out their best. They are great at taking strong flavours and as one appeared in our 'Root Connections' veg box this week (thankfully not wrapped in plastic!), it seemed like a great opportunity to add a little drama to this under-rated salad staple.
The key to making the most of your cucumber is to eat it at room temperature and give it some proper seasoning. Salt, sugar, vinegar, soy, sesame oil, garlic and chilli combine to make this a show stopping dish. You also need to rough your cucumber up a little, squashing it and lightly bashing will mean your seasoning will cling on better. Use the flat of your knife to push down on the cucumber, towards your board - you are aiming to squish the cucumber into submission and burst it's sides.
This salad is perfect for a summer BBQ and is really quick to make.
1 x Whole Cucumber
1tsp Sea Salt
2tsp Caster Sugar
2 Cloves of Garlic, very finely chopped
3tsp Sesame Oil
3tsp Light Soy Sauce
1½tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
2tsp Toasted Sesame Seeds
½ Bunch Fresh Coriander, chopped
2tsp Crispy Chilli Oil
1. Chop the cucumber in half (around it's middle) and then using the flat blade of your knife, push down on the cucumber, as if you were trying to make it burst in the middle. Rotate the cucumber 90° and repeat the process. The cucumber should roughly break apart, but you may need to a knife a little to help it on it's way.
2. Once you have it in four quarters, slice it diagonally into reasonably chunky pieces. Tip the pieces into a mixing bowl.
3. Sprinkle the cucumber with with salt and sugar and using your hands, gently massage in.
4. Pour in the rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and mix through again. Add the chopped garlic, sesame seeds, chopped coriander and crispy chilli oil and mix again.
That's it, transfer to your serving bowl and eat. I like to add a little more crispy chilli oil over the top as a garnish.
Enjoy. And foodies, don't forget to tag us on Facebook or Instagram if you make this at home!
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The beauty of making a paella - NO STIRRING! Get it on and go and do something else, the results are stunning. There are so many variations of this Catalan classic and (just like a risotto) there are so many different ingredients that you can use. When by the coast, fish and shellfish rule, the further inland, chicken, rabbit, sausage are the key. To make a good paella, there are a few things that you need to get right, the rest will take care of itself.
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