Vietnamese Cucumber Salad

Glass bowl with cucumber salad, including peanuts, cilantro, and jalapeños.

Let me be the 12 millionth person to recommend Salt Fat Acid Heat, both on Netflix and in book form. This is Samin Nosrat’s Vietnamese-style cucumber salad. I served it with pan-seared chicken thighs and rice, and it was the interest in an otherwise unremarkable meal. The extra dressing from the salad made a nice sauce for the chicken.

2lbs (about 8) Persian or Japanese cucumbers
1 large jalapeño, seeds removed if desired, thinly sliced
3 scallions, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
0.5c coarsely chopped cilantro
16 large mint leaves, coarsely chopped
0.5c toasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
0.25c neutral-tasting oil
4-5T lime juice
4t rice wine vinegar
1T fish sauce
1t sugar
pinch of salt

Using either a mandolin or a sharp knife, thinly slice cucumbers, discarding the ends. In a large bowl, combine cucumbers, jalapeño, scallions, garlic, cilantro, mint, and peanuts. In a small bowl, mix remaining ingredients and stir until salt & sugar are dissolved. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and mix. Taste and adjust with more salt or lime juice. Serve immediately.

Snack time: granola

One of my big life hacks, it seems, is “make a big batch of something and then eat it bit by bit!” Turns out you can do that with granola as well as soup. I make a batch on Sunday, and then it’s my work snack all week long.

3c rolled oats (Not instant. Instant bad.)
3T brown sugar
0.5t ground cinnamon
0.25t kosher salt

Mix these all together in a big bowl. Heat the oven to 300F.

0.33c honey
0.25c olive oil
1t vanilla

Whisk these ingredients together. I usually do it in a measuring cup, but a small bowl will work too. Pour into oat mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until everything is well mixed.

Spread it all on a cookie sheet. Cook for 15 minutes, pull it out and stir. Put back in the oven for 5-15 minutes, until it’s golden brown.

Cool the granola on the sheet for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The granola hardens as it cools; also, if you don’t stir it the liquified sugars will cement the granola to your pan. Stirring. It’s important.

1c total various assorted add-ins: peanuts, dried fruit, seeds, tree nuts, whatever

I usually use peanuts, pepitas, and dark chocolate chips. (One-third cup of each, totaling 1 cup.) Put them in a super big bowl. Once the granola is dried, put that in the bowl and mix until well-blended. Store in an air-tight container.