Featured Recipe: Sichuan Cucumber Pickles
These quick pickles need to sit in vinegar for only a few hours before you can eat them. They're great with fried items, since the inegar acts as a sort of palate cleanser. But the ginger, Sichuan peppercorns, and sambal oelek—a prepared red chile paste that is readily available at most grocery stores—make them different than the standard cucumber pickle.
- 1 pound English cucumbers, halved lengthwise and cut on the diagonal into -inch-thick slices
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely julienned
- 1 to 2 fresh Thai chiles, stemmed, seeded, and julienned
- 4 cups rice vinegar
- 1¼ cups sugar
- 1½ teaspoons sambal chile paste, also known as sambal oelek
- ½ cup toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
- ¼ cup whole dried red chiles, such as árbol
In a bowl, toss together the cucumber slices and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Transfer the cucumbers to a colander and let drain in the sink for 2 hours.
Rinse the cucumbers briefly under cold running water and drain well. Transfer to a bowl, add the ginger and fresh Thai chiles, and toss to mix. In a separate bowl, stir together the vinegar, sugar, sambal, and the remaining 2 tablespoons salt until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Set aside.
In a small frying pan, heat the sesame oil over medium heat. Add the Sichuan peppercorns and toast for 10 seconds. Add the dried chiles and toast for 10 seconds longer, until the chiles darken slightly.
Pour the contents of the frying pan over the cucumbers, then add the vinegar solution and toss well. Let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate. The pickles are ready to eat in 2 hours. They will keep, refrigerated, for up to 1 week.
Winner, IACP Awards 2013-Chefs and Restaurants
Charles Phan’s Vietnamese Home Cooking
captures the very heart of Vietnamese food: fresh, pure, full of life, and vibrant with flavor. His beautiful pictures, stories, and recipes make it completely irresistible.
—Alice Waters, chef, author, and proprietor of Chez Panisse
The great appeal of Charles Phan’s cooking at The Slanted Door has always been its vivid purity of flavor. It isn’t necessarily simple food, but there’s not a soupçon of trickery or gratuitous filigree involved. In his long-awaited, warmly written first cookbook, Phan reveals the secrets of his approach to the great and varied food of his native Vietnam.
—Colman Andrews, editorial director of TheDailyMeal.com
A truly magical and illuminating journey into the cooking of Vietnam, with recipes so thoroughly brilliant they will not only allow you to better understand the cuisine of that country, but they will also make you a better cook, Asian or otherwise.
—James Oseland, editor-in-chief of Saveur, author of Cradle of Flavor
Like the best cooking is, Charles Phan’s food is deceivingly complex. With this book, Charles shows you how to unravel that code and make delicious Vietnamese food at home.
—David Chang, chef/owner of Momofuku