Chunky bacon and cucumber salad

A spicy Sichuan-style salad of cucumber and fried bacon.


  • 1 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 6 long dried chillies
  • 2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 whole star anise (optional)
  • 100g/3½oz smoked lardons, cut into 1cm/½in thick pieces
  • 1 red chilli, de-seeded, finely chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tbsp clear rice vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 200g/7oz cucumber, halved lengthways, de-seeded and sliced into 1cm/½in thick wedges
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1-2 pinches dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp chilli oil
  • 1 small handful fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • dry-roasted peanuts (optional)


  1. Heat a wok until smoking and add the groundnut oil, then add the dried chillies and Sichuan peppercorns. Stir fry for a few seconds, or until fragrant.

  2. Add the star anise (if using), bacon lardons and chilli and stir fry for 2-3 minutes, or until the lardons have turned golden-brown at the edges.

  3. Add the rice wine or sherry, vinegar and sesame oil and stir-fry for a few seconds, then add the cucumber and stir-fry for a few more seconds.

  4. Season with sea salt, dried chilli flakes and lime juice, stirring well.

  5. Pile the stir-fry onto a serving plate, drizzle over the chilli oil, garnish with the chopped coriander, sprinkle over some peanuts, if using, and serve immediately.