As I mentioned in my previous post, I am in Vancouver for my 20th high school reunion. We are staying with my dear friend, J., and her family. J. and I have been friends since we were nine, which means there aren't a lot of things that we don't know about each other. We shared many firsts together - first crushes, first dances, first drags on a cigarette ("Look, look - am I inhaling?"), first heartbreaks... Our friendship is 29 years old and counting, and I consider her my sister. Besides my family, there is no one else that can make me cry at a drop of a hat during sorrowful times or feel elated during joyful ones. In short, she's pretty amazing!
Over the years, one of the interests we shared is cooking and consuming good food. While living in Australia for a period, J had the opportunity to take some cooking classes. This recipe came from her Thai cooking class. It has become a family favorite and I am so glad to finally be in possession of this recipe and to be able to pass it on to you.
Peel 1-inch strips, alternating with unpeeled strips, on an English/European cucumber. This is purely for aesthetic purposes. Doesn't it look purty?
Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and then in ¼-inch slices, on the diagonal.
Place the cucumber slices in a serving dish, along with half-moon slice from half of a red onion.
In a small bowl, pour 1 ½ tablespoon fish sauce. Fish sauce can be found in Asian markets and most well-stocked supermarkets. I know it's a little stinky but, trust me, it will all work out in the end.
Add 1 ½ tablespoon rice vinegar and 1 tablespoon sugar.
Stir well, until the sugar is dissolved. Typically, my friend would add one minced red chili to the dressing. Since we didn't have a red chili, we added ½ teaspoon of dried red chile flakes. You still get the heat, but not the beautiful color of the fresh chili.
Just before serving, toss the cucumber and onion mixture with the dressing.
Top the salad with ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro and 3 tablespoon crushed peanuts. Toss well and serve.