Cucumbers are a mainstay of Thai cooking, sliced and placed at the base of steaming servings offlied rice, hollowed out and stuffed with seasoned pork for a clear soup, and seasoned with a sweet and tangy brinefor this delicious, ubiquitous little pickle. If you use the big, dark green, grocery-store cucumbers, do this first: peel well, halve lengthwise, scoop out seeds with a spoon, and then slice crosswise into sturdy little crescents. Except when serving it with satay, Thais often crown this refreshing salad with a tablespoon of chopped peanuts and 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro.
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 large hothouse cucumber or 6 small garden cucumbers (about 1 pound)
- 3 tablespoons thinly sliced shallots or coarsely chopped purple onion
- 2 teaspoons thinly sliced fresh hot red chilies or finely chopped fresh hot green chilies
In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the sugar and salt dissolve, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and let the dressing cool to room temperature.
Peel cucumbers and cut them lengthwise into 4 long strips. Slice each strip crosswise into small triangles. (You should have about 3 cups.) Place in a small serving bowl or divide among several small serving bowls. Top with the chopped shallots and chilies. Shortly before serving, pour the cooled dressing over the cucumbers. Serve at room temperature or cover and refrigerate for a day or two, and serve cold.
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