Sunday, September 20, 2009

Stir-fried cucumber

Sometimes you eat something which makes you rethink really basic food categories. I've always known that the Chinese cooked cucumber, but it was only when I had some pork with cucumber and black mushrooms at the Wing Sing Inn that I realized that the description is not quite accurate. This, together with the potato salad I had, finally enabled me to understand every Chinese cookery writer's sneering comments about overcooked European vegetables. There is a whole way of cooking vegetables in Chinese cuisine which, in European terms, is really halfway between 'raw' and 'cooked'. I decided to apply my newfound insight to a cucumber, and was pretty pleased with the result.


1 large cucumber
6 small spring onions
3 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of light soy sauce
vegetable oil

  1. Cut the ends off the cucumber, and cut the cucumber into 3 or 4 segments crosswise.
  2. Cut each segment lengthwise into slices - neither wafer-thin nor too thick - discarding the outside slice on each side to reduce the amount of cucumber skin. Then cut the pile of slices in half, lengthwise to give you narrow rectangles.
  3. Peel the garlic cloves, squash with the side of a large knife,then chop.
  4. Cut the spring onions into 1cm lengths, using all but the very leafiest end.
  5. In a wok, heat a little vegetable oil until it is smoking, add the garlic and spring onion and fry for a few seconds before addding the cucumber slices.
  6. Stir-fry until the cucumber pieces are all hot, but taking care not to overcook them. The cucumber should still taste crunchy and fresh.

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