I love change. People complain about Midwestern weather: extreme heat (right now) and extreme cold. I adore when it gets so hot you can't wait for the crisp cool of autumn, you're sick of cucumbers (though never tomatoes) and anticipate fall bonfires, hooded sweatshirts, crunchy leaves under the feet and soup. Then, wonder beyond wonders, you find yourself eager to see the first dancing flakes of snow to cover the trees. You want roasts and furry boots and snow angels more than anything until it's mid-February and minus 20 and all you can think about is something green. And before you know it, there you are again, longing for summer dresses and heat so all-encompassing you can barely breathe in.
I complain halfheartedly these days about having too many cucumbers. Too many cucumbers! What a blessing. Nothing could be more appropriately cool and crisp when it's 95 degrees outside. I've been forced to get creative with salads, and as of last night, I'm fresh out of produce. It helps when there are barbecues and "family" dinners to bring salads to. With this salad, I was hoping for something akin to this cucumber relish served alongside pretty much everything in Thailand. It's not quite right. The true Thai version is more syrupy and sweet. This was salty and sour with soy sauce and lime. Still good if not quite on target. The heat sated and the buzz of cicadas dulled enough to allow us enough relief to eat al fresco to say goodbye to Casey and happy birthday to Sean (who got a new smoker!).
Thai Cucumber Salad: from Chez Pim
2 large cucumbers (or 1 American-size, ginormous cucumber you neglected to harvest for a few days too many)
3/4 pound shrimps
1/4 cup fish sauce
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar (add extra to taste)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Quarter and seed the cucumber and slice into discs. Add already cooked shrimps. Chop the cilantro and mint and toss with the cucumber and shrimp. Chop the green onions and fry in vegetable oil or sesame oil (because I'm fancy and have that) until crips but not burnt. Set aside.
To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients and whisk together. I let the dressing sit for a couple hours so the red-pepper flakes could infuse with the dressing. Then toss dressing over the salad and serve chilled.