1. Two days in advance, chop up a small napa cabbage. Toss the cabbage with 2 tablespoons of kosher salt, and a 1/4 cup of fine sherry. Put in an airtight container and store at room temperature for 48 hours.
2. One day in advance, slice 3 – 5 kirby cucumbers (or seedless mini-cucumbers) into 1/2 inch slices. Toss with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons of sesame oil until it begins to smoke. Pour the sesame oil over 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne powder and set aside.
4. Drain the cabbage, reserving 1/2 the cabbage liquid. Drain the cucumbers and reserve 1/2 the cucumber liquid. Cut the cucumber slices into half moons. Combine the cabbage, the cucumbers and both reserved liquids in a mixing bowl. Add 1 fresh jalapeno or serrano pepper finely chopped, 2 teaspoons of Asian chili-garlic paste and 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger, thinly sliced. Mix. Pour in the cayenne oil, 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped cilantro and 2 scallions, chopped. Mix.
5. Cover and refrigerate for four hours.
6. Strain the mixture, reserving the liquid.
7. Separate the cucumbers from the cabbage mixture. Discard the cabbage mixture.
8. Place the cucumber slices in a mixing bowl. Add garlic powder to taste. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the reserved liquid over the cucumbers. Discard the remaining liquid. Add 1/4 cup of roasted peanuts. Mix. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve (or serve at room temperature).
Adapted from Sichuan Pickles, New York Times, May 29, 2011.