Sweet and Sour Thai Style Cucumber Pickles with Ginger
Sweet, Sour, Spicy, Cool and Addictive!
My first encounter with sweet and spicy pickles (other than the Southern bread-and butters of my childhood!) was at a restaurant called Wild Ginger in Seattle. What a revelation! I was also new to the Asian philosophy of sweet, sour, spicy and bitter balanced in a single dish. I couldn't wait to try to duplicate it.
This was years ago, and I did more horrific damage to more cucumbers than I can relate. All I can say is I finally figured it out. The lovliest thing is that how simple it is - a little handful of ingredients, and it's wonderful.
I love this with all kinds of Asian dishes - not just Thai. I do lots of Satays, and also lots of classic Chinese-American and Japanese dishes. This absolutely simple little pickle is a fabulous side for any of them. It's light, crunchy, cool and delightful. Make it as spicy as you wish - I often skip the heat entirely when I'm serving my kids. Or take it to the moon - like I do for myself! It's also quite nice paired with the Asian Spicy Slaw - great contrast of flavors and textures.
For 2 servings, or to top 6 Bangkok Breakdown Burgers:
1 Cucumber (I use either American or English hothouse cucumbers)
2 Tbl rice wine vinegar*
2 Tbl white sugar
1 tsp Thai chili powder
2 green onion tops, sliced diagonally
- Partially peel cucumbers. If you have an American cucumber, peel it completley. English hothouse cucumbers don't come waxed, as their American counterparts do, so the peel is edible.
- Slice the cucumbers lengthwise. Using a simple place spoon (like for your cereal!), scoop out the seeds and discard.
- Place cucumber on a cutting board, and slice very thinly, on the diagonal.
- Place all ingredients in a small mixing bowl, and toss gently to combine. Chill for an hour and serve.
*You can significantly alter the flavor profile of these by alternating the vinegars. I've used Asian black and red vinegars as well as rice wine. My favorite is the simplest: rice wine vinegar, available in regular grocery stores. But give the others a try as well if you can find them. They're delicious as well.
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