March 6, 2008
I’d love to tell you about this salad, but, first, some ground rules. Or, rule, rather. Those are not cucumbers up there that you see. Nope. Those are cukes. At least according to my family. And, I’ll also tell you that cukes are best straight out of my grandpa’s garden.
Come a certain point in the summer, my grandparents seemed to always have bushels of cukes. They’d serve them straight up, sliced into wedges or disks. Or diced up to crunch up a salad. Or loaded into paper bags, foisted onto whoever would take them home. But they also loved to toss paper thin slices of cukes in a vinegary bath: a staple of their summer meals.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
The salad I’m featuring today—a Thai Cucumber Salad with Roasted Peanuts—is very similar to the last incarnation I mentioned: the vinegary salad. Just like the salad I remember from the summer dinner tables in Northern Minnesota, this salad is a fantastic mix of textures (some of the cukes are still as crunchy as the chopped peanuts, while some of the cukes have begun to yield to their cool, vinegary dressing) and flavors (sour, sweet, tangy, salty, clean and refreshing). And with its Asian flavors and fresh mint, it’s an update on an old family favorite.
Thai Cucumber Salad with Roasted Peanuts
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeño chili (about 1 large)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 English hothouse cucumbers, halved, seeded, thinly sliced
3/4 cup sliced red onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped lightly salted roasted peanuts
Whisk first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Place cucumbers, onion, and mint in large bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with peanuts and serve.