Once upon a time, I lived in Virginia Beach. I would go shopping with my mom at Lynnhaven Mall. There used to be a Chinese buffet upstairs there, in the back corner. The man who stood at the door to greet and seat looked an awful lot like Andy Garcia, which was extra lovely. You know you would let this guy serve you Chinese food:
Anyway, this is before I liked Chinese food. You know, back when I was clearly a moron. Mom would nicely ask if I would go there with her for lunch, and I'm nice, so I would, and I would eat some fruit, and eventually, I started trying the other foods there. The first thing I tried was the hot and sour cucumbers. I would eat nothing but oranges and cucumbers on every visit.
I have never seen them on any other Chinese buffet. I wonder if they are not actually Chinese, but maybe Vietnamese? I don't know.
I've spent far too many years dreaming about those cucumbers. Mmmmm. So tangy. So salty. So spicy. So cold.
I've recently come into some cucumbers, and while I was slicing up a few to start making pickles, my mind wandered to the best cucumbers I had ever eaten in my whole life--those hot & sour ones from that restaurant that no longer exists. Overcome with craving, I made up a recipe.
Hot & Sour Cucumbers
about 1 c. rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp. sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced or about 1/2 tbsp. of garlic powder
generous shake (or 3 or 4) of red pepper flakes (fresh peppers would've been ideal, but I had none)
2-3 cucumbers, sliced like pickles
some sliced onion (I used a bit of green onion as my loving husband doesn't like onion, really)
Bring vinegar, sugar, garlic and peppers to a boil on the stove. Stir to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat to cool. Place cukes and onion in a bowl; sprinkle some salt over top and let rest a few minutes. Pour cooled vinegar mixture over top. Cover and refrigerate until cold. Eat cold.