Tonight’s dinner is a complete surprise – neither of us has ever had a cooked cucumber before. After tonight, I think we will be seeing more of them!

I did an early morning harvest and brought in a dozen cucumbers – the largest one weighing in at more than two pounds. That’s a lot of cuke!

Cucumbers

We were able to quickly share four of them, but it still left 8 – including that 2-pound monster.

Victor made a shrimp and cucumber salad for lunch – that used up half of one – with only seven more to go. Oh… I forgot… there were still three in the refrigerator from Tuesday. We have made every kind of salad one can think of and they’re still coming in faster than we can eat or give them away.

There’s a dozen pints of dill pickles downstairs, and six pints of various refrigerator-type pickles in the ‘fridge. We generally don’t eat a ton of pickles – I’m not canning any more.

It was time for drastic action. I hit Chef Google.

It was 13 things to do with cucumbers. 19 things to do with cucumbers. 26 things to do with cucumbers. All the same lame ideas. And then I found Stir-Fried Cucumbers with Spicy Ground Pork on a website called Serious Eats.

To say I was skeptical would be an understatement. But… when one is desperate… I mean… cooked cucumber?!?

Well… it appears that not only are cooked cucumbers a thing, they’re actually really, really good! Who knew?!?

I don’t know how different cukes will work with this, but the ones we are growing have a really small, compact seed row and lots of meaty flesh – even the really big cukes are all meat. They cooked up perfectly.

Stir-Fried Cucumbers with Spicy Ground Pork

adapted from Serious Eats

Ingredients

For the Cucumbers

  • 2 pounds cucumbers (about 3 large cucumbers), partially peeled to create alternating peeled and unpeeled vertical strips, seeded, and cut on the bias 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

For the Marinated Pork:

  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine
  • 1 teaspoon canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

For the Sauce and Stir-Fry:

  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of chili flakes, to taste
  • 1/2 head of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Cooked white rice, for serving

Directions

Place cucumbers in a large bowl and add the salt. Mix and toss until the cucumbers start to release a little bit of water, about 1 minute. Let stand for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, For the Marinated Pork: In a small bowl, combine ground pork with the soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, oil, fish sauce, and cornstarch. Mix well and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.

For the Sauce and Stir-Fry: In a small bowl combine the water, soy sauce, sesame oil, and cornstarch. Mix well and set aside.

Drain cucumbers and rinse under cold running water. Drain well, then pat dry with paper towels.

In a wok, heat 1 teaspoon canola oil over high heat until smoking. Add marinated pork, spreading it out with a spatula so that it makes a thin layer. Let cook undisturbed for 30 seconds. Using the spatula, break the pork into small pieces. Add chili flakes to taste and continue stir-frying until the pork is cooked through and golden brown. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Wipe the wok clean and add the remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil and heat over high heat until smoking. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 10 seconds. Add cucumbers and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Return pork to the wok and stir well. Mix the sauce with a spoon or chopstick and pour it into the wok. Continue cooking and stirring until the cucumbers begin to look glossy, about 30 seconds. Transfer cucumbers to a plate and serve with rice.

Cucumbers

For the chili flakes, we used peppers we dried last year – they are really hot – so I went with 1/2 teaspoon. Otherwise, I resisted temptation and didn’t change anything other than doubling the amount of ingredients for the sauce.

It was spicy, and the cucumbers had a great flavor and texture. The pork was good, but you could really use anything, here, and some green onions stirred in at the last minute would be okay, too. In fact, this is one recipe that can really be played with.

I’m thinking that the secret, here, really is salting the cukes and getting rid of a lot of the water before cooking. They really had a great texture.

So here’s to something new! And 10 more cukes – with more on the way.

 

 

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