SICHUAN CUCUMBERS WITH ORANGE AND ALMONDS
1 lb. 5 oz. salad cucumbers
1 Tbsp. fine sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. dried chile flakes
1 tsp. Sichuan peppercorns
15 raw unsalted almonds
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
Peel the cucumbers and trim and discard the ends. Slice them at an angle, 1/4-inch thick. Toss them in a colander with the salt and let them rest over a bowl or in the sink for 20 minutes. Once they give up their copious liquid, rinse them briefly and pat them as dry as possible with a clean kitchen towel, then transfer to a medium bowl.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet over high heat, toast the chile flakes and peppercorns for 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant. Slide the spices into a small bowl to cool. In the same skillet over medium-high heat, toast the almonds, stirring once or twice, until light brown on both sides, about 3 minutes.
In a spice grinder or dedicated coffee mill, grind the spices to a fine powder, then set aside. Grind the almonds finely as well, pulsing them carefully so as not to turn them into nut butter. Add the almonds to the cucumbers, along with the sugar and orange juice. Toss very well to coat evenly. Spread the cucumbers in a shallow dish and sprinkle liberally with the spice powder. Eat immediately, or cover and refrigerate; these will keep for 3 days.
— From “Asian Pickles: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Cured, and Fermented Preserves from Korea, Japan, China, India, and Beyond” by Karen Solomon (Ten Speed Press, $19.99)