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This recipe is distinctly not Chinese, though it would like to be. It's my own bastardization of 2 separate recipes for two Chinese cucumber salads. Some of the ingredients (Szechwan peppers, peanuts, ...) appear only in my fevered imagination; doubtless they are even less Chinese than the rest of the recipe.

The vinegar here, as elsewhere in preparing faux-Chinese food, is very important. There are many excellent vinegars out there -- Balsamic vinegar, fine rice vinegar, lemon juice. Throw them all out -- or at least don't use them here. This recipe calls for plain 5% vinegar. Englishers are nonetheless warned against the use of malt vinegar and other distillates of paint stripper.

The peanuts I use are shelled fried salted peanuts; or you could use roasted peanuts.

But at least it's easy to make and tasty.



Cut the cucumbers lengthwise into halves, then cut triangles out of each half. Stir with some salt.

In a heavy saucepan (who are we kidding, you need a wok to cook, so go and get yours) heat some oil. Fry the red peppers over high heat, until they are brown or almost black. Add the garlic and Szechuan peppers, and as soon as the Szechuan peppers start popping add the cucumbers. Fry the cucumbers stirring constantly for 3-6 minutes. The length of time depends on the heat you are able to achieve; basically, you want them to be too hot to touch for about 1-2 minutes, but not cooked. Add the peanuts for the last minute.

The cucumbers should release some liquids; add the vinegar and sugar, and stir. Cook for around 2 more minutes. Turn off the heat and sprinkle sesame seed oil liberally on top.

Serve lukewarm or cold. Keeps well in the refrigerator for around 5 days; some prefer it one day old.

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