Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Chinese Style Vinegared Cucumber Salad 糖醋蓑衣黄瓜- So tasty and refreshing!

Remember the authentic 红烧肉 (Chinese Soy Braised Pork Belly) that I have learned to cook for my son?

Sorry to say that the vege-loving me wasn't into pork belly when we were feasting at my friend, Yi's house. Instead, I was enjoying the vinegared cucumber salad made by Yi. OMG... Let me tell you. These vinegared cucumbers are so refreshing and tasty!!! They are so addictive that I had finished all of it that was served on Yi's dining table. Shame shame me.

Yi's wife, Mary saw that I love this salad so much that she even packed extra vinegared cucumber for me to bring home. What can I say? Shame shame me... LOL!
Honestly, I was also thinking about my vege-loving aunties when I was feasting on this salad. I kept telling myself... I have to learn to make the cucumbers from Yi for myself and my aunties!!!

And of course, I did.

Update on 7 March 2017: This is my second 糖醋蓑衣黄瓜 which is more finely cut and more infused with flavours.


Chinese vinegar cucumber salad
Chinese Style Vinegared Cucumber Salad

This was my first 糖醋蓑衣黄瓜...
Gosh! I need a lot of practice!!!

Chinese vinegar cucumber salad
Chinese Style Vinegared Cucumber Salad

Like Mary, Yi's wife who taught me how to cook 红烧肉 at here, Yi is also very kind and keen to share his recipe with me.

Originally, I thought that these vinegared cucumbers are very straightforward to make.... like toss the cucumbers with seasonings and vinegar and then chill? No! No! No!

Although making this cucumber salad is not straightforward, it is easy and requires three major steps:

Step one is to remove any excessive water content in the cucumbers so that the cucumbers will stay crunchy and well seasoned with flavours.

Step two is to season the cucumbers with sauces and vinegar.

Step three is to semi-cook the cucumbers with spice infused oil.

All done? The cucumbers will be ready to eat, preferably on the next day after chilling so that the flavours are totally infused into the cucumbers after chilling them overnight. Easy? Must make... must make... because these tasty and refreshing cucumbers are very appetizing and very very addictive to eat!!!

Munch and crunch... OMG! I can't stop eating these tasty cucumbers!!!

A few important things to mention before proceeding to my video and recipe.

(1) The choice of cucumbers

According to Yi, this salad tastes the best when it is made with cucumbers that have the least water content. And he said that silm Lebanese cucumbers are good to use.

But what if you live in a place that doesn't sell any Lebanese cucumbers? I did a Google search for substitute for Lebanese cucumbers and found at Wikipedia that cucumbers are classified into three main cultivar groups: "slicing", "pickling" and "burpless". No Lebanese cucumbers? I think that it's ok if you are using the burpless type of cucumber to make this salad.

According to Wikipedia, burpless cucumbers are sweeter and have a thinner skin than other varieties of cucumber, and are reputed to be easy to digest and to have a pleasant taste. They are nearly seedless, and have a delicate skin and they are sometimes marketed as seedless or burpless, because the seeds and skin of other varieties of cucumbers are said to give some people gas. Hmmm...

Besides Lebanese cucumber, the following are also known as burpless cucumbers:
Dosakai from India and California
East Asian cucumbers with mild, slender, deep green, bumpy, ridged skin
Persian cucumber from Canada and US
Beit Alpha cucumbers from Middle East
Apple cucumbers from New Zealand and parts of Europe
Schälgurken from Germany
Kekiri from Sri Lanka
Armenian cucumbers from Middle East


With the above list, I'm sure you will be able to find the suitable type of cucumber to make your salad.

(2) The choice of Chinese black vinegar

I always thought that Chinkiang vinegar is good enough for our daily Chinese food but Yi told me that I should try 山西老陈醋, Shan Xi mature vinegar which is a very different black vinegar with stronger flavours. Oh yes... My son and I can definitely taste the difference and now we both prefer to eat our Chinese dumplings with 山西老陈醋!!!

Hence, I would say that 山西老陈醋 is sort of a must to make this salad extra tasty!

Hmmm... Enough of my blah blah blah... Let's move on to video and recipe.

Here's a video showing I made this salad. When Yi saw my video and how I cut my cucumbers, he had a big laugh!!! You see... Yi has a fine and particular way to slice the cucumbers which is kind of unbeatable! All the cucumbers that he sliced are so thin and yet every slices are interconnected like a spring! And this is why this salad is known as 蓑衣黄瓜. In Chinese, 蓑衣 means that traditional straw rain coat that are used by farmers and 黄瓜 means cucumbers. In combination, 蓑衣黄瓜 means cucumbers that are sliced so finely and layered that they look like the traditional straw rain coat,

"YOUR cutting skill is so lousy!" said Yi as he reckons that I should cut my cucumbers more thinly for more flavours to infuse into the cucumbers. No way!!! Another colleague had tried Yi's cucumber cutting method and had failed pretty badly. Well at least, mine are still intact! LOL! Oh well, I guess that I just have practised more to be as good as Yi.

Nevertheless, please enjoy my video.

Chinese vinegar cucumber salad
When I'm back in Singapore for my holidays, I will make this lovely salad for my aunties :)

Update on 7 March 2017:
This 糖醋蓑衣黄瓜 is made by Yi.

See how Yi cut the cucumbers. Very impressive!!! Every slice is so uniform and fine!

And this is my second 糖醋蓑衣黄瓜!

See any improvement? :p

Here's the recipe.

Serve 8-10 as appetizers

Step 1: Remove any excessive water content in the cucumbers.

You need:
5 medium burpless cucumbers with the least water content like Lebanese cucumber or Persian cucumber - see above for more tips
3 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp salt

Make cuts on cucumbers slightly diagonally towards one direction as thinly as possible without cutting through them. Then turn the cucumbers at the uncut side and make the same cuts along the same direction again. This will make the cucumbers spirally sliced but without slicing them apart.

Sprinkle and rub in the sugar and salt into the cucumbers. Cover with cling wrap and wait for about 1 hrs at room temperature for the cucumber to sweat and release any excess water. Squeeze the cucumbers slightly to remove as much water as possible without breaking them and pat them dry with paper towels. Discard the cucumber water.

Step 2: Season the cucumbers.

You need:
1/2 tsp Shaoxing Chinese cooking wine
1 tbsp oyster sauce, plus more to taste*
2 tbsp Chinese black vinegar, preferably 山西老陈醋, Shan Xi mature vinegar, plus more to taste
1/2 tbsp sesame oil

Add cooking wine, oyster sauce, vinegar and sesame oil into the cucumbers. Stir gently until the cucumbers are well coated with the seasonings. Cover the cucumber with cling wrap and let them marinate for 2 hrs at room temperature. Taste the marinating liquid and see if you need to season with more oyster sauce and vinegar.

Step 3: Cook spice-infused oil to semi-cook and marinate the cucumbers further.

You need:
3 tbsp any neutral tasting cooking oil
1/5 piece of a star anise
10 whole Sichuan red peppercorns
1 spring onion*, cur into 2-3 cm length
3-4 cm ginger, washed, unpeeled and briefly sliced
3 cloves garlic*, peeled and briefly sliced

Combine all ingredients in step 3 and cook them with low heat until the spring onions and garlic turns light golden brown. While the oil is hot, pour oil through a heat resistance strainer very slowly into the cucumber in a drizzling action making sure every part of the cucumber is semi-cooked by this hot oil. Discard all that is trapped in the strainer.

Cover the cucumbers with cling wrap and chill the cucumbers in a fridge, preferably overnight or until the cucumbers are well infused with flavours. 

Enjoy as a cold dish or appetizer.

Keep any uneaten cucumbers in a fridge for up to 4 days.

*Vegetarian option - You can replace oyster sauce with vegetarian mushroom oyster sauce. You can also omit the addition of onion and garlic if you are a vegetarian that can't eat onion and garlic.

Happy Cooking
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7 comments:

  1. Hi Zoe, love this. Would you like to share this with the other participants in Food on Friday over at Carole's Chatter? I have a weekly link up party – each week there is a different ingredient or theme. The current theme is Asian Flavours
    You can see upcoming themes in one of the pages at the top of my home page. If you would like to join in the fun please schedule a reminder for each week. The collection starts at 7am Friday New Zealand time – which is probably some time Thursday your time – I do find time zones quite confusing. Hope to see you soon. Cheers, Carole

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    1. Hi Carole, Thanks for asking me to join Food on Friday but due to busy schedules, I'm sorry that I won't join any blogging events lately as I will just publish my blog posts and go. My apology!

      Zoe

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  2. Yummy! My family loves pickled cucumbers, raddishes and carrots! We frequently make them and eat them as a side dish or in sandwiches!

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  3. Hi Zoellick, may I know where do u buy the vinegar 山西老陈醋?

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    1. Hi Shermaine,

      Funny that my name is Zoellick!!! LOL! You can buy this vinegar in most Asian grocery shops. It is a common item :)

      Zoe

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  4. Oops tI am so sorry Zoe for the typo error. I think it's the auto correction on my phone! So far I have yet to see this vinegar before. Asian grocery shops can you provide me example of such shops?

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    1. Hi Shermaine,

      Just kidding you about my name :) It is a really a common item selling in most Asian grocery shops. Best to look in shops that are owned by Chinese from China. If you are living in Melbourne, I'm sure you can buy these in the city, Boxhill, Richmond or any highly Chinese populated area. Cheers!

      Zoe

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