(Sichuan 'kai-wei' Salad)
In Chengdu and all over Sichuan they love cured pork and for starters you will often find a delicious spicy cucumber salad in vinegar and Sichuan pepper oil. Inspired by these ingredients, I wanted to recreate the flavours at home and so I have chosen to use smoked lardons, which give this dish its smoky saltiness, and Sichuan peppercorns to provide numbing heat. The cucumber and rice vinegar help to cut through those flavours, making this an unbelievably addictive and moreish dish. A great starter, it helps to ‘kai-wei’ – open up the appetite. If you are vegetarian, substitute chestnut and shiitake mushrooms for the lardons.