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Jenise

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Speaking of smashed cucumbers

by Jenise » Sat Jul 11, 2020 3:43 pm

One of the threads here mentioned this technique, which I meant to comment on and didn't. I was reminded of it when I made smashed cucumbers as an appetizer for last night's martini contest. Can't find the post, so here I am starting a new one.

Anyway what I wanted to add was that I think there's a better way of smashing the cukes. Namely, split the cucumbers in two lengthwise. Turn them flat side down. Now beat them at intervals with a rolling pin. This will put most of the pressure on the high part, literally splitting the cucumbers in half along the length. Now pick them up and separate them into chunks with your hands. This method results in the most rough edges for absorbing your seasoning and the best rustic look.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Bill Spohn

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Re: Speaking of smashed cucumbers

by Bill Spohn » Sat Jul 11, 2020 3:50 pm

Smashing cucumbers?

Is that a new band or am I missing something Freudian here......
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Paul Winalski

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Re: Speaking of smashed cucumbers

by Paul Winalski » Sat Jul 11, 2020 5:42 pm

Among other things, it's a Sichuan cold dish.

-Paul W.
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Larry Greenly

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Re: Speaking of smashed cucumbers

by Larry Greenly » Sat Jul 11, 2020 7:15 pm

Here's an ATK recipe from a couple years back:

Smashed Cucumbers
Yield Serves 4

Smashed cucumbers, or pai huang gua, is a Sichuan dish that is typically served with rich, spicy food. We started with English cucumbers, which are nearly seedless and have thin, crisp skins. Placing them in a zipper-lock bag and smashing them into large, irregular pieces sped up a salting step that helped expel excess water. The craggy pieces also did a better job of holding on to the dressing. Using black vinegar, an aged rice-based vinegar, added a mellow complexity to the soy and sesame dressing.

We recommend using Chinese Chinkiang (or Zhenjiang) black vinegar in this dish for its complex flavor. If you can’t find it, you can substitute 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar and 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar. A rasp-style grater makes quick work of turning the garlic into a paste. We like to drizzle the cucumbers with Sichuan Chili Oil when serving them with milder dishes such as grilled fish or chicken.

Ingredients
• 2 (14-ounce) English cucumbers
• 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
• 4 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar
• 1 teaspoon garlic, minced to paste
• 1 tablespoon soy sauce
• 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted

Directions

1. Trim and discard ends from cucumbers. Cut each cucumber crosswise into three equal lengths. Place pieces in large zipper-lock bag and seal bag. Using small skillet or rolling pin, firmly but gently smash cucumbers until flattened and split lengthwise into 3 to 4 spears each. Tear spears into rough 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces and transfer to colander set in large bowl. Toss cucumbers with salt and let stand for at least 15 minutes or up to 30 minutes.
2. While cucumbers sit, whisk vinegar and garlic together in small bowl; let stand for at least 5 minutes or up to 15 minutes.
3. Whisk soy sauce, oil, and sugar into vinegar mixture until sugar has dissolved. Transfer cucumbers to medium bowl and discard any extracted liquid. Add dressing and sesame seeds to cucumbers and toss to combine. Serve immediately.
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Jenise

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Re: Speaking of smashed cucumbers

by Jenise » Sun Jul 12, 2020 10:35 am

They respond well to any number of seasoning combinations, of course. For the martini event, I didn't want vinegar, so just seasoned them with salt, dill weed, red chile flakes and a few pinches of sugar.

Must say, I disagree with "serve immediately". I pull a few pieces out to add back later for their brilliant color the way a plate of pickles in a Jewish delicatessen might come out mixed old/new, but I leave the cucumbers to marinate for hours. And next day? Even better.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Bill Spohn

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Re: Speaking of smashed cucumbers

by Bill Spohn » Tue Jul 21, 2020 12:35 pm

I shall give these try. Had no problem sourcing Chingkiang black vinegar in my local store.

Having duck confit tonight - wonder if it will go with that? And if the vinegar will fight with the Burg I was thinking of opening?
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Re: Speaking of smashed cucumbers

by Jenise » Tue Jul 21, 2020 1:01 pm

Bill, haven't made that exact recipe, but I think the soy sauce should soften the vinegar. However, if concerned, use half the amount of vinegar and cautiously add more later. I personally don't find vinegar the wine bomb that so many do.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Speaking of smashed cucumbers

by Paul Winalski » Tue Jul 21, 2020 2:01 pm

The problem will be the toasted sesame oil. In my experience, the aroma of sesame oil completely obliterates wine aromas. Don't use this dish if you want to enjoy your Burgundy.

-Paul W.
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Jeff Grossman

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Re: Speaking of smashed cucumbers

by Jeff Grossman » Tue Jul 21, 2020 2:50 pm

On the other hand, here are a few notes from a dinner at Grand Szechuan in 2010:

Alesia 2007 Green Valley Pinot Noir - by the Noodle, this is what's meant to be drunk with cucumber with scallions (and quite a lot of sesame oil)!

Lopez de Heredia 2000 Rioja Tondonia Rose GR - the Noodle says, this is what's meant to be drunk with pork soup dumplings!

Frick 2007 Alsace Pinot Blanc "Precieuses" - oh my Noodle, this is what's meant to be drunk with smoked tea duck!
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Re: Speaking of smashed cucumbers

by Jenise » Tue Jul 21, 2020 3:40 pm

Paul Winalski wrote:The problem will be the toasted sesame oil. In my experience, the aroma of sesame oil completely obliterates wine aromas. Don't use this dish if you want to enjoy your Burgundy.

-Paul W.


Jeez, I didn't look at that part--I agree. 2 tsp is a LOT of sesame oil. A much smaller amount in combo with olive oil will provide an essence without obliteration.

OR hey. Make a smashed cucumber salad, but use olive oil, white vinegar, salt and garlic for your seasoning. Forget the Chinese stuff--I do this all the time.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Speaking of smashed cucumbers

by Bill Spohn » Tue Jul 21, 2020 10:01 pm

I made the cukes to go with some duck confit tonight. I didn't use toasted sesame oil, just regular, along with lightly smoked sesame seeds and it was a hit for SWMBO alongside duck confit.

I intend to experiment with the recipe, perhaps going a tas smaller in size of the cuke bits as I think it could be a nice accompaniment to my next terrine entry.

(I've been pondering a sweetbread and morel as well as a trilayer chicken and pork terrine. It will probably be next year by the time I can hold another terrine event, but that cuke recipe is going into my 'maybe' file.
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Re: Speaking of smashed cucumbers

by Jenise » Wed Jul 22, 2020 7:27 pm

Bill, if you bought Asian sesame oil--it if was brown, it's toasted. I'm not sure there's such a thing as untoasted sesame oil, but you may have such a thing up there. I just love the cucumbers this way--however they're dressed. I love the way the rough edges absorb seasoning so much more effectively than cut edges do.

So it's an important technique. Cucumber salad will go well with so many different cuisines with just slight adjustments to the dressing. Even plain--just salt, dill and chile flakes was great for the martini contest last a few weeks ago.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Speaking of smashed cucumbers

by Bill Spohn » Wed Jul 22, 2020 7:41 pm

The sesame oil I have is golden and doesn't say toasted but that doesn't mean it isn't. Doesn't taste like it though.

I am having the rest of the cukes today just to see how they held up to a day being marinated in the dressing.
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Re: Speaking of smashed cucumbers

by Jenise » Wed Jul 22, 2020 7:45 pm

You'll probably like them even more. Cucumbers age in the fridge quite well. There are a few cucumber salads I deliberately make several days ahead.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Speaking of smashed cucumbers

by Bill Spohn » Wed Jul 22, 2020 7:48 pm

BTW, the sesame oil is marked as extra virgin and was made in France.
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Re: Speaking of smashed cucumbers

by Dale Williams » Wed Jul 22, 2020 10:16 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:BTW, the sesame oil is marked as extra virgin and was made in France.

Do they grow sesame in France? Thought tropical.
Never really found a use for cold pressed sesame oil, though I am a heavy user of toasted,
But the cukes with duck sounds great in any case
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Re: Speaking of smashed cucumbers

by Jenise » Thu Jul 23, 2020 11:15 am

Bill Spohn wrote:BTW, the sesame oil is marked as extra virgin and was made in France.


Now that's interesting!!!
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Speaking of smashed cucumbers

by Jenise » Thu Jul 23, 2020 11:20 am

Bill Spohn wrote:BTW, the sesame oil is marked as extra virgin and was made in France.


Btw, I once was given a bottle of extra virgin peanut oil by a Virginia peanut grower (as a result of my activity on this forum!). It was WONDERFUL. Incredible peanut flavor, I savored every drop. That was 20 years ago and I've never seen such a thing again.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Speaking of smashed cucumbers

by Bill Spohn » Thu Jul 23, 2020 11:21 am

Jenise wrote:Btw, I once was given a bottle of extra virgin peanut oil by a Virginia peanut grower (as a result of my activity on this forum!). It was WONDERFUL. Incredible peanut flavor, I savored every drop. That was 20 years ago and I've never seen such a thing again.


Why - are virgins hard to come by in Virginia....?
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Jeff Grossman

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Re: Speaking of smashed cucumbers

by Jeff Grossman » Thu Jul 23, 2020 4:13 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:
Jenise wrote:Btw, I once was given a bottle of extra virgin peanut oil by a Virginia peanut grower (as a result of my activity on this forum!). It was WONDERFUL. Incredible peanut flavor, I savored every drop. That was 20 years ago and I've never seen such a thing again.


Why - are virgins hard to come by in Virginia....?

The problem is nobody has an extra. :mrgreen:
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Re: Speaking of smashed cucumbers

by Paul Winalski » Sun Oct 25, 2020 1:00 pm

Jenise wrote:Bill, if you bought Asian sesame oil--it if was brown, it's toasted. I'm not sure there's such a thing as untoasted sesame oil, but you may have such a thing up there.


There is such a thing as untoasted sesame oil. It's used as the commonplace cooking oil in some regions of India, where it's called gingelly oil. Gingelly is almost clear in color and is very neutral. A completely different beast from toasted sesame oil.

-Paul W.
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Re: Speaking of smashed cucumbers

by Jenise » Sun Oct 25, 2020 2:13 pm

Yes, I've learned that since.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov

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