This is as closely as I’ve been able to duplicate the wonderful cucumber salad at Fuchsia Dunlop’s Bar Shu. It’s an easy accompaniment and it’s great at cutting through rich flavours. The dressing keeps for a week in the fridge; try making a double amount and keeping half for a really quick salad later in the week.
The smacking of the cucumber is an important first step in this recipe. It opens cracks up in the flesh of the vegetable for the dressing to seep into, and means that when you salt the cucumber, there will be more surface area for its liquid to escape from. I use the flat edge of my Chinese cleaver to wallop the cucumber, but you can use a rolling pin if you don’t own a cleaver.
To smack enough for four (although we can easily demolish this amount between two) you’ll need:
1 large cucumber
2 teaspoons soft brown sugar
4 cloves fresh garlic
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon soya sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon Chinese chilli oil (leave this out if you prefer your cucumber not to be spicy)
Salt to sprinkle
Lay the cucumber on a wooden board and slap it hard with the flat of a cleaver until cracks have opened up all along it. Chop the cucumber into bite-sized pieces, put in a colander and sprinkle with salt to disgorge some of the liquid from the flesh.
Meanwhile, chop the garlic finely and mix it with the sugar, soy and rice vinegar until the sugar is dissolved. Add the oils and set aside.
When the cucumber has been draining for 40 minutes, pat it dry with kitchen paper and place on a large flat plate. Sprinkle over the stirred dressing and serve immediately.