With all of the different types of cucumbers at the market these days, you never know what you are truly getting. Watery and insipid, or crunchy and crisp, the adjectives vary as much as the cucumbers themselves. But I do like a good cucumber, and watery as they may be, they also taste of summer: light, refreshing, and cool.
You have your regular, garden variety sort, with the tough green skin almost pimply, and overflowing with seeds waiting to be discarded before consumed. Then there is the English cucumber, virtually seedless with a tender, edible skin. A pickling cucumber that is diminutive, and just yearning to be brought home and soaked in some briny solution, is next on the list. And finally, you have the slightly more difficult to find, Persian or Japanese cucumber. This is the baby of them all, no larger than your hand, virtually seedless, supple skin, and crisp. The perfect cucumber to cook with, or not to cook with for that matter.
I bought some Persian cucumbers recently, and wasn’t sure what to do with them. Slicing them up and putting them in the run of mill tossed salad seemed a bit bland for these beauties. But what about a salad of cucumbers, and only cucumbers, something to exemplify their cucumber-y nature? What I came up with was a slightly confused, but altogether delicious mess of cucumber squiggles, using up a few choice ingredients I had lying about my kitchen.
This salad in done on the mandoline, but could just as easily be composed with a good vegetable peeler. Shaving long threads of cucumber, gives the salad a subtle crunch, and some visual interest. A chopped red chile adds a piquant kick, playing off the cooling aspect of the cucumber. Finally, just after dressing, and before serving, the salad was finished with a sprinkling of freshly crumbled Feta cheese, giving the salad a much needed saltiness.
I made a simple dressing of rice wine vinegar, a touch of sesame oil, some sugar, and a squeeze or two of fish sauce. I wanted the dressing to be slightly vinegary, brininess being such a good compliment to the mellow crunch of the cucumber. Poured over the salad and gently tossed, the dressing made this slippery salad of cucumbers the perfect accompaniment to any summertime meal.