My sweet sister hooked me up royally when I visited. She had a good friend/chef who graciously came to her home and to teach us a few authentic Chinese dishes from their province (Yunnan). We loved every bite of them- some spicy, some sweet, all fresh and delicious! I’ll be sharing the recipes with you through the next few weeks. Please let me know if you have any questions regarding Asian or Chinese cooking and I will try and get some answers from my friend who gave us our cooking lesson.
One thing I will tell you about Chinese Food is that it is fresh. Locals go to the market, see what’s most fresh and in season and select their ingredients for that nights dinner, then repeat the same process the next day. Restaurants often have their selection of fresh ingredients displayed in front of their restaurant so you can see what they’re serving currently. It wouldn’t be uncommon to see a live flopping fish in a bowl of water outside a restaurant as an advertisement of just how fresh the fish would be that evening.
Yunnan Style Cucumber Salad
3 tbsp crushed garlic
½ cup crushed peanuts
4 tbsp sugar
½ cup white vinegar
1-2 tbsp Sichuan hot pepper paste—(find at your local Asian market)
Use salt to scrub cucumbers as you wash them; do not peel. Place each cucumber on cutting board and, using a wide knife or meat cleaver, smash till slightly flattened (pound knife with the bottom of your fist while holding the knife with your left hand). Then use your knife to roughly chop cucumber into large chunks. Place cucumbers in a large salad bowl. On top, place crushed garlic, crushed peanuts and sugar. Pour vinegar over garlic, peanuts, and sugar. Allow to sit half on hour or an hour for flavors to combine. Place a few ice cubes around the bowl to keep the cucumbers cold while they are marinating. Before serving, add 1-2 tsp Sichuan hot pepper paste (or any hot pepper paste you find at your local Asian food store), depending on desired spiciness. Remove Ice Cubes and toss all together and serve.