Cucumber Salad with Caramelized Shallots and Herbs
This cucumber salad, from brother and sister Eric and Sophie Banh, chefs and co-owners of Monsoon and Ba Bar, in Seattle, gets its unmistakable sweet-salty crunch from a generous garnish of caramelized shallots, an addictive staple in Vietnamese salads. It's key to slice them uniformly, or they won't cook evenly.
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- Calories: 95
- Calories from fat: 57%
- Protein: 1.8g
- Fat: 6.3g
- Saturated fat: 0.7g
- Carbohydrate: 9.7g
- Fiber: 1.2g
- Sodium: 70mg
- Cholesterol: 0.0mg
- 3 large shallots, sliced crosswise into 1/4-in.-thick rings to yield 1 cup, plus 1 tbsp. minced shallot
- 2 cups vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- About 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- About 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- About 1/2 tsp. coarsely ground pepper
- 1 1/2 English cucumbers
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh mint
- 2 tablespoons roughly chopped Thai basil* (optional)
- 1 tablespoon roughly chopped red or green shiso* (optional)
- 1 tablespoon finely diced cu kieu (Vietnamese pickled leeks)* or mild cucumber pickles, such as cornichons or Claussen dill
- 1. Toss shallot slices to separate them into rings. Have ready a slotted spoon and a double layer of paper towels. Heat oil to 275° in a small, deep heavy saucepan and drop in shallot rings.
- 2. Cook shallots, stirring often, until they turn a uniform light brown--this will take about 8 to 12 minutes. Turn off the heat when they look almost done so they don't burn. Lift shallots from oil with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Reserve 2 tsp. shallot oil for vinaigrette and let cool. Save the rest for stir fries and any salad dressings.
- 3. Make vinaigrette: Whisk vinegars, sugar, lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper together in a large bowl until salt and sugar dissolve. Add reserved shallot oil and the minced shallots and whisk well to blend. Season to taste with more salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
- 4. Slice cucumbers into 1/4-in. slices with a knife or on a mandoline. Toss cucumbers and tomatoes with vinaigrette. Add mint, Thai basil, and shiso if using.
- 5. Arrange salad on a platter and top with pickled leeks and fried shallots.
- Make ahead: Fried shallots, up to 2 days, stored airtight at room temperature.
- *Thai basil has narrow leaves, a purplish stem, and an anisey scent. Shiso, a beautiful notch-edged red or green herb, lends delicious fragrance to a dish (it's often served with sushi); the red is more pungent. Vietnamese pickled leeks are crunchy and mildly spicy-sweet. Find all at Asian markets.
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