Make it. Eat it. Love it.
I duck into one of the covered alley ways of the shuk trying to get a small reprieve from the hot desert sun. I walk slowly up and down the narrow walkways, checking out what new items the vendors may have to sell. It’s crowded on this Friday morning with the before-shabbos crowd of people hurrying to get what they need for the weekend ahead. Strawberry season is coming to an end and the last piles of them can still be seen for only 5 shekels a kilo. Fresh garlic is still being pushed on costumers even though the last of the season tend to be small and sad looking. Stone fruit catches my eye, the season is beginning and peaches and plums are not yet ready to be had. ‘A few more weeks’ I think to myself as I put down a hard-as-rock tiny peach. It’s been awhile since I visited our small Be’er Sheva shuk and I sigh at the thought that the trip here in this heat just wasn’t worth it.
I find my way to the largest stand where I buy most of my produce from. I fill up bags of lemons and peppers, tomatoes and eggplant. Then I see Katherine holding something that looks like a cross between a cucumber and a zucchini. “Armenian cucumbers” she says to me. “Feel them, they have a sort of hairy texture”. Intrigued and excited at the new find, I fill up a bag to take home. I notice bunches of spring onions as I turn around. I smile as I gather a bunch of them through the crowd. What started as a disappointing shuk trip turned out to be a wonderful day with two great finds.
I eagerly slice into one of the Armenian cucumbers as soon as I return home. They are crisp with a mild flavor similar to a cucumber and sweet with a hint of citrus. The skin is thin and edible making it an ideal fresh cut cucumber, perfect for salads. After looking around online I found out that Armenian cucumbers are part of the melon family along with muskmelon and honeydew melon. The delicate taste seems to pair well with many ingredients and so I used them along with my spring onion find as a base for this Thai inspired salad.
Light and satisfying, this salad combines sweet and sour flavors with a kick of heat from the chili pepper. I added chicken to mine to make the salad a substantial main course but feel free to leave it out for a vegetarian alternative or side dish. Perfect for spring BBQ’s, picnics or light lunches, this salad will be sure to impress.
***If Armenian cucumbers cannot be found, you can substitute English cucumbers for a very similar taste!***
2 large Armenian cucumbers, sliced into rounds and halved
2 carrots, sliced into thin ribbons
1 spring onion, thinly sliced
2 pre cooked chicken breasts, shredded
1 1/2 cups rice vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 large chili peper, minced
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
In a large mixing bowl combine Armenian cucumbers, carrots, spring onions and shredded chicken, set aside.
In a saucepan over medium heat combine rice vinegar, sugar, sesame oil and chili peper, stirring until sugar has disolved.
Remove sauce pan from heat and stir in sesame seeds, cool completely.
Once dressing has cooled pour over salad, toss and serve.