In the beginning…
There was nothing but darkness. Well, not quite darkness. But there were sullen grey clouds, that would drift across the sky and occasionally spit rain at inconvenient, umbrella-less moments.
And the Lord said, “I’m THIS CLOSE to cancelling summer entirely, unless you lazy, whiny people do something amazing to change my mind.”
And the people sent their athletes to compete on the water and in the velodrome and on the track, and won many victories over the other nations. And the people were simultaneously jubilant and incredulous. They said to each other “How is this happening? We never win ANYTHING! WOOHOO!”
And the Lord muttered, “Bunch of show-offs.”
And then said, “Well done! Let there be light!”
And there was light! And the people rejoiced, revealed their pasty flesh, and frolicked in the fields and on the pavements and on the beaches.
And this writer made chicken salad. Not just any chicken salad, though. No mayonnaise in this baby. Just shredded poached chicken, dressed with a mildly spicy, super-savoury Sichuanese dressing, and served over sliced cucumbers.
And she saw that it was good. Very, very good.
Cold Chicken with a Spicy Sichuanese Sauce (adapted from Fuchsia Dunlop’s Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking)
Serves 2 as a light dinner
300-350g/0.75 pounds cold, cooked chicken breast (I poached mine, but leftovers from a roast would work, too)
3 spring onions, thinly sliced on a diagonal
0.25 tsp salt
1 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1.5 tsp Chinkiang vinegar
1.5 tsp caster sugar
1 tbsp chicken stock
4 tbsp Sichuanese chili oil, with 0.5 tbsp of the sediment from the bottom of the jar
0.5 tsp ground Sichuan pepper
15-20 1cm cucumber slices
1. Shred the cooked chicken, and put it in a big bowl with spring onions and salt. Toss to combine.
2. Toast the sesame seeds on a low heat on the hob until they go a few shades darker and smell nutty.
3. Combine the other ingredients in a small bowl.
4. When ready to eat, add the dressing and the sesame seeds to the chicken mixture, and toss to combine. Lay out the cucumber slices on two small plates, then divide the chicken between them. Serve, and enjoy.
Note: You can find the vinegar, chili oil, and peppercorns at any Chinese market. They will keep nearly indefinitely.