Szechuan Kirby Pickles // Forms of Hotness


Consider feelings of "hot." There's black pepper, which hits you in your sneeze spot in the roof of your nasal cavity. Red pepper flakes make you reach for water, milk, bread...anything to quench that feeling of "red-hot" (and it is definitely "red" in the same way razzberry is blue). Then there's peppermint, which is hot in a cool way, and spearmint, which is hot in an herbal and cool way.

Then there's Szechuan pepper, which is neither hot hot or cool hot, but a sort of lukewarm buzz like a smooth cigarette or the fizz of champagne. It hits you as nothing special, bark-like, even. But give it a couple seconds, and the sensation evolves into a tingling electricity (and it's a sensation, more than flavor).

This salad is simply made out of thinly sliced Kirby cucumbers and Vidalias, white vinegar, sugar and salt. Unlike some forms of hotness, Szechuan peppercorns don't obliterate your taste buds. They open them up and get you salivating. Flavor profiles are enhanced, as if you just put on your glasses and just go, Oh... oh.

Recipe: In saucepan mix 1 cup vinegar,  1 cup water, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of Szechuan Peppercorns. Simmer for 1 minute then let cool to room temperature. Combine in bowl 4 thinly sliced Kirby cucumbers, 2 cloves chopped garlic, 1/2 Vidalia onion. Pour cooled pickling liquid over vegetable mixture. Refrigerate for at least four hours and serve cold.