Chunky Bacon and Cucumber Salad (Sichuan 'Kai-Wei' Salad)
- 1 tablespoon groundnut oil (peanut)
- 6 long dried chiles
- 2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 star anise
- 3 1/2 ounces smoked bacon lardons (cut in 1/4-inch pieces)
- 1 medium red chile, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry
- 2 tablespoons clear rice vinegar or cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 7 ounces cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced into 1/2-inch thick wedges
- Pinch sea salt
- 1 to 2 pinches dried chile flakes
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon chile oil
- 1 very small handful fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
- Dry-roasted peanuts, optional
Heat a wok or pan over a high heat and add the groundnut oil. Add the dried chiles and Sichuan peppercorns, and stir-fry for a few seconds, until fragrant. Add the star anise, lardons, and chiles, and stir-fry until the lardons have turned golden brown at the edges.
Add the rice wine or sherry, vinegar, and sesame oil, and stir-fry for a few seconds, then add the cucumber, and stir-fry for another few seconds.
Season with the sea salt, dried chile flakes, and lime juice.
Arrange the salad on a serving plate, drizzle over the chile oil, and garnish with the chopped cilantro and peanuts, if using. Serve immediately.