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Chinese Cucumber Salad - Suo Yi Cucumber

The most fabulous way to cut and present cucumber, ever! This cucumber salad is made of ONE SINGLE cucumber, sliced into a spring shape and dressed in a sweet, sour, and umami sauce, and finally topped with some aromatic and spicy chili oil.
Let's please call this dish by its proper name - Suo Yi cucumber, or Suo Yi Huang Gua 蓑衣黄瓜. Suo Yi, means the traditional Chinese raincoat which was made of overlapping layers of straw and sometimes leaves, think a Hawaiian grass skirt but for the whole body. And the "scales" of the cucumber created by a special slicing technique and stretching resemble the layers of straws in Suo Yi, hence the name.

And this special way of slicing is not just for presentation's sake! Because of all the incredibly thin, translucent, and flexible slices that this method creates, the seemingly ordinary cucumber is transformed into a form of magic and art! The texture is crunchy yet tender, every single thin "scale" of the cucumber picks up the sauce like a dream and delivers a punch of flavor and aroma in your mouth.


For the dressing, you can either add the condiments and spices to the cucumber then pour a splash of hot oil on it - don't worry, that little fleeting heat will not cook the cucumber; or use ready-made chili oil; or, you can even combine the oil, condiments, and all the spices in the pan over medium heat first,  let it cool down, then pour onto the cucumber. But either way, trust me an authentic Suo Yi cucumber is not complete with an aromatic oil element.


Watch the video below to see the slicing technique, DETAIL is key for this recipe! If you have other questions come fine me on Instagram and Tiktok and please tag me if you try this recipe!

INGREDIENTS:

1 long cucumber or 2-3 medium-sized ones
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoon brown sugar
3 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 dry red chili peppers, sliced
1 teaspoon whole Sichuan peppercorn
1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
2 tablespoon canola oil, or other high smoke point oil
Salt

TO MAKE:

- Slice the cucumber first VERTICALLY, use two chopsticks as guards, and cut only about 60% of the height of the cucumber, DO NOT cut through;
- Flip the cucumber, and slice the opposite side DIAGONALLY the same way, cut no more than 60% of the height;
- Once both sides are scored, stretch out the cucumber and place onto a place, sprinkle a few generous pinches of salt, gentle massage the salt around, let the cucumber sit for at least half an hour, up to 1 hour, this is to let out the excess juice and moisture in the cucumber and also to make it more flexible, DO NOT SKIP; 
- In a small bowl, whisk together rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, and pour over the cucumber;
- In a small saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat, add in the Sichuan peppercorn, and let it gentle simmer and bubble for 20 minutes;
- Once the cucumber is rested, dump all the juice that was let out, and rinse the salt off, drain well, stretch the cucumber out and coil it in a spiraling shape onto a place;
- Sprinkle the garlic, sesame seeds, and dry red pepper over the cucumber, and once the oil is done infusing and heating, strain out the pepper corn, and carefully pour the hot oil over the garlic and peppers, enjoy the sizzle and aroma!
- Stir everything to mix together, serve cooled, enjoy!
- *If your cucumber is very long you can use a pair of scissors to cut it into smaller pieces for the convenience of eating after serving.

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