Variations on this simple relish/salad turn up throughout Southeast Asia. The purpose is to give you a bite of cool, crisp, crunch to counterpoint spicy hot meat.
2 Kirby (pickling) cucumbers, or 1 medium-size cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and seeded (It isn't necessary to seed Kirby cucumbers)
1 shallot, minced (2 to 3 tablespoons), or 1 scallion, both white and green parts, trimmed and minced
1 small hot red chile, such as a bird or cayenne pepper, stemmed, seeded, and minced
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
Cut the cucumber(s) into 1/4-inch dice. Place the cucumber(s), shallot, chile, rice vinegar, and sugar in a mixing bowl and toss gently to mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste. The relish can be made up to 2 hours ahead.
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