Along the Grapevine

Spicy Chinese Cucumber Salad


DSC03449.JPGI first wrote about prickly ash (zanthoxylum americanum) aka Szechwan pepper last year in this post and now is a good time to revisit this prolific plant and for me to give an update. As I mentioned in my previous post, the berries can be picked at any time of the year once there are leaves on the plants, while it is still green or even when the berry has fallen and only the brown husk remains. This year I started picking in August when the berries were a bright red and easy to spot. Most are still red now in mid-September, but they are beginning to fade. I found the best way to pick them was just to cut off the branches and remove the berries in the comfort of my kitchen. No worries about over harvesting these berries. They are an invasive weed and we can’t eradicate them from our property no matter what we do.DSC03451DSC03450I dried them on the countertop and within a day or so the husks turned from deep red to brown and the shiny black berries were exposed.dsc03453.jpgNow they are ready to be stored and used in so many ways. So far I have made spice mixtures, added them to fermented pickles, to sauces, dressings and even to some sweet dishes. They are not hot like black pepper or chilis but have a citrussy smokey tang to them which pairs well with so many flavours.

For today I made a simple spicy cucumber dish, a popular item on Chinese menus, and one in which the flavour of the Szechewan pepper really shines. I made it rather hot and garlicky, but you can tone down those flavours by reducing the amount you use, and by removing the seeds from the pepper. I did not have chili oil on hand but infused one chopped, dried chili pepper in 2 tablespoons of oil.

Spicy Chinese Cucumber Salad

1 medium cucumber, thinly sliced

2 Tbsp chili oil

3 garlic cloves, mashed and chopped

1 tsp Szechwan pepper

2 dried red chilis

1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp white sugar

Roast the Szechwan pepper and the chilis in a skillet until they release their aroma, but being careful not to scorch them. Mix these with the other ingredients for the dressing and pour it over the sliced cucumbers, toss and serve.


Linked to Fiesta Friday #188, Jhuls at The Not so Creative Cook and Nimmi at Adorable Life.


Author: Hilda

I am a backyard forager who likes to share recipes using the wild edibles of our area.

16 thoughts on “Spicy Chinese Cucumber Salad

  1. Wow! This is so admirable and the cucumber salad sounds fantastic! I was just looking for Szechuan peppers, but haven’t found one. I wish we were neighbors so you could share some with me.😂 Thanks for sharing at Fiesta Friday party, Hilda. Have a lovely weekend!


  2. Thanks so much. I have so many, I would love to share them. Where do you live?


  3. You’re so lucky to be able to forage for so many wild edibles in your property. I try to keep a small portion of my backyard wild but at just half an acre space is at a premium. I haven’t seen prickly ash around here, though I can’t be sure if I’d be able to identify it if I do see one. I actually didn’t know you can find Szechwan pepper wild in N America. That’s pretty cool!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Angie, for stopping by. I did not know it existed here until recently, and now am amazed by its unique flavour and usefulness. It does look something like a citrus tree, except far bushier when mature, and the leaves and berries are very aromatic. It is also very prickly. If you know any farmers in your area, they will know if you can find it there. It is a real nuisance to farmers I’m sure.


  4. good post


  5. I have a similar recipe and just love it. It’s a good side for a Chinese dinner.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This looks amazing. I want those Szechwan peppers and an on the hunt now 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Would love to come foraging with you sometime Hilda!


  8. Love this! I have nominated you for three blogger awards! I hope you accept, but do not feel obligated. You can find the article here:


  9. Great recipe and really good read. It is amazing how much I learn from you every time I come to visit. Thank you Hilda!


  10. Pingback: Spicy Chinese Cucumber Salad – SEO

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