Sichuan Cucumber and Noodle Salad for April/May Cook the Books

I really think of myself as a non-adventurous eater.   I do try to broaden my horizons and if I think back to my childhood when we ate nose-to-tail before it was a thing (because we were raising our own beef), I have eaten sweetbreads, tongue, beef liver and calf “fries” (and maybe a few other offal items that were hidden into meals.)

Although we have not traveled extensively, we do try to eat local when we are trekking around a new place.   That all being said, some of the food that passed through Fuchsia Dunlop‘s lips would never have made it passed mine.

Welcome to this round for Cook the Books.   Deb from Kahakai Kitchen is hosting Dunlop’s Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China.   

I started out enjoying Dunlop’s memoir, even if parts were a bit redundant and lagged.   I enjoyed her discussion of the Sichuan area of China and the regional differences that abound.   Hats off to Dunlop for her total immersion into the culture.

I couldn’t have done it.   And, I found the bulk of the book just more of the same—weird eats.   Dunlop (ad nasuem) describes (over and over again) eating odd and disgusting (at least to this Westerner) stuff.

I have experimented a bit with Sichuan peppercorns and I like the overall punch of acid of this unique spice.   Although my Sichuan pepper went into the making of hot chili oil, I adapted a salad recipe to highlight the spice.

Sichuan Cucumber and Noodle Salad

Based on Sichuan Shirataki Sesame Noodle Salad With Cucumber, Sichuan Peppercorn, Chili Oil, and Peanuts 


  • 1 (8 oz.) pkg. Pad Thai noodles
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 t. fresh ginger, minced
  • 3 T. unsalted tahini paste
  • 1 T. Chinese Chinkiang or black vinegar (or combine 2 teaspoons white vinegar with 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar in its place)
  • 2 t. soy sauce
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1/4 c. hot chili oil*
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into thin strips (Use the peeler to shave off strips.)
  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced (divide tops from white and pale green parts)
  • 1/2 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 T. roasted sesame seeds
  • 1/4 c. roasted peanuts, rough chopped


  1. Cook noodles according to directions.
  2. Combine garlic, ginger, tahini, vinegar, soy sauce, and honey in a large bowl and whisk to combine.   Add in chili oil.  Whisk to emulsify, adding a few tablespoons of water if it is too thick.
  3. Toss cooked noodles in sauce.
  4. Arrange cucumber shavings, green onions (white and pale green parts), cilantro, and sesame seeds on noodles.  Top with peanuts and chopped green scallion tops.  Toss again at table before serving to coat the cucumbers, cilantro, and peanuts.

Yield: 2-4 (Two large entrees or four smaller salads.)

*Depending on how hot you want this dressing, you may want to cut the chili oil with a mild oil like grape seed oil.


Yes, Dunlop is a much more adventurous eater and traveler than I.  I take some consolation that she dosed herself up with alcohol before she partook of some items.  Alcohol can make one eat almost anything—even rabbit head kabobs (45).

As for myself, I agree with her friend Liu Yoachun:  “I’d really be just as happy with a bowl of noodles” (131).


Please join us for the June/July selection hosted by Claudia (Honey from Rock).  We are revisiting another Ruth Reichl classic with Garlic and Sapphires.  Look for an announcement post soon at Cook the Books.   Deadline for submissions will be July 31, 2018.


I am also linking up with Deb’s Souper Sundays, Novel Food, and Foodies Read  for May.





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My Favorite Reads

Eat, Pray, Love
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Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
My Life in France
Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen: How One Girl Risked Her Marriage, Her Job, and Her Sanity to Master the Art of Living
Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise
A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table
Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table
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