Inspired Recipe: Cucumber-Zucchini Salad
According to Rian Malan, there is no single truth in South Africa. Each story can be spun many ways and two people looking at the same thing can see it completely differently. Therefore, to one man, Nelson Mandela is a god. To another, he is an opportunistic politician. It's just a matter of perspective. That sort of double-sidedness characterizes much of South Africa, including its cuisine. Take sosaties, for example, a sweet and sour curried lamb in apricot sauce. With a dearth of fresh apricots here in Chicago, though, I settled on a cucumber-zucchini salad instead.
The key to this salad is allowing it to fully marinate before serving. I used rice vinegar instead of the traditional white in order to increase the sweetness, and this pairs really well with the red pepper flakes. Your initial taste will yield a light, sugary impression, which is soon knocked away by a jolt of spiciness. If you can't handle heat, step away from this recipe. But if you like the idea of flavors that compete and combine, this is a great, easy side dish to add to your repertoire.
- 1 medium cucumber
- 1 medium zucchini
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Score cucumber and zucchini with a fork. Slice paper-thin with a mandoline. If you don't have a mandoline, thin slices with your chef's knife work as well.
Create the dressing. Dissolve the sugar in the hot water and add vinegar, salt and black and red pepper.
Arrange the cucumber and zucchini slices in alternating layers in a bowl. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and allow to marinate one hour.
Serve as a side dish with any meal that needs a kick.
Now that you’re good and hungry, read our recommendation of the book that inspired this recipe: The Lion Sleeps Tonight.