Do you ever want to just smash something? I’ve been releasing my aggression by smashing ice this winter. Unfortunately, my aggression is also caused by the same ICE!
Due to the inclement weather, ice formations have been building up in my backyard and causing flooding inside my house. There is nothing quite like the shock of walking in iced water, that you didn’t see in your basement, in your socks. It makes me so ANGRY. After I change into dry socks and heavy boots, I grab my hatchet, my ice chipper and go outside and smash the ice. “TAKE THAT YOU EVIL ICE”, I scream.
Unfortunately, my anger abates long before the amount of ice I have to smash to stop my house from more flooding is broken up and thrown deeper into the yard. Last week, I was out there for three hours. In the end, I was just cold and utterly exhausted. My anger had snuck off to find a much warmer place to fester.
You may not have had the Ice Man Cometh to your house this winter, but there are many other things that can make one ANGRY. Might I suggest taking out your aggressions on a cucumber?
As with the ice, there is a practical side to all this violence. Smashing the cucumber in this dish breaks down the cell structure of the cucumbers so they can absorb more dressing.
- 2 ounces kosher salt
- 1 ounces Sichuan peppercorns
- In a dry small skillet, toast Sichuan peppercorns until they smell fragrant. Remove from heat. Cool.
- Combine cooled Sichuan peppercorns with salt in a grinder, mini food processor or mortar and pestle and process until they are finely ground.
- Store in a glass jar.
Sichuan Peppercorns are not related to black peppercorns. They dried berries of the prickly ash tree. They have citrusy flavor notes and a distinctive tingling and numbing effect on the tongue. Sprinkle this salt on popcorn, fries candied nuts, steaks, pork dishes, etc.
- 1.5 pounds of cucumber, (English seedless or Persian cucumbers work best)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 dried red chilies
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 3 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 1.5 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorn salt
- 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons peanuts, roasted and chopped (optional)
- 1 tsp Chinese ground chilies in oil (optional)
- Smash the cucumber by laying it on a cutting board and trimming off the ends. Take a chef’s knife or a cleaver and smash it on the cucumber sideways so the cucumber cracks. Do this for the entire length of the cucumber, then slice it into 1/2” chunks.
- Salt the garlic by mixing it with 1/2 teaspoon salt and sitting it on a piece of paper towel to drain off excess liquid for 10 minutes.
- In a small skillet, heat the peanut oil and sauté the garlic and chilies, stirring constantly until garlic turns gold, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, add sesame oil and cool.
- In a medium bowl, mix the rice wine vinegar with the sugar until the sugar is dissolved, then add the cooled garlic mixture, the cucumbers and the remaining ingredients.
Feel free to add more Sichuan peppercorn salt to the cucumber salad if you’d like more of the numbing flavor. I added peanuts because I love them.