Cucumber Stir Fry

Cucumber, stir fried with char siew
I am not a fan of raw vegetables. Don't like raw tomatoes. Don't like raw cucumbers. Don't like raw celery. Fussy pot!! Too true lol. BUT, if cucumbers, tomatoes, and celery are cooked, I like them.

So, I stir fry cucumbers in a variety of ways, depending on what I have in the fridge or freezer.

Cucumber, stir fried with SPAM
Stir fried cucumbers would not be a dish one would find on a restaurant menu, though I think some enterprising chef/cook could probably create a section in their menu for "true home cooking" instead of the "customized to the Western palate" run of the mill Chinese/Asian dishes! Wonder if that will prove to be popular with customers.....

Here is my basic recipe, with options to use different types of protein. I strongly suggest NOT using olive oil as its strong flavour is not really suitable for Asian/Chinese cooking/dishes. My preferred oil is rice bran oil, but any neutral flavoured oil is good.


Cucumber Stir Fry

2 continental cucumbers, peeled
1 carrot, peeled
1 cup of sliced char siew (Chinese bbq pork)
1 handful glass noodles (also called mung bean threads)
4 cloves garlic - finely chopped
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
large pinch ground white pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons neutral flavoured oil
salt to taste
1 heaped teaspoon corn or tapioca starch/flour
water


PREP:

  1. Soak glass noodles in a bowl of tap water until they are reasonably soft (approximately 10 minutes). Drain and using scissors, cut noodles into shorter, manageable length (approximately 10cm).
  2. Cut peeled cucumbers into quarters lengthwise. Remove and discard the seeds. Slice cucumber diagonally into 1/2 cm thickness.
  3. Cut peeled carrot into half, lengthwise, and slice into thin slices.
  4. Mix corn/tapioca starch with 4 tablespoons water to make a slurry (this mixture tends to separate after a while, so stir again just before using it at the end of the recipe).

TO COOK:

  1. Heat oil in wok over medium high heat. 
  2. Add minced garlic and saute, constantly stirring, until they are just starting to turn very light brown. 
  3. Add sliced char siew and sliced carrot, and continue to saute for a minute.
  4. Increase heat to high and add cucumber slices, oyster sauce, soy sauce, and pepper. Stir fry for a minute.
  5. Add 2 to 4 tablespoons of water if wok is too dry (cucumber releases quite a bit of liquid so try not to add too much water if you do not want lots of gravy). Let gravy come to boil for about 15 to 30 seconds to soften cucumbers a little. Taste and add salt if needed.
  6. Add softened glass noodles, and stir for a few seconds (glass noodles will absorb some of the sauce). 
  7. Lastly, drizzle just enough of the corn/tapioca slurry into wok, stirring constantly, to obtain a slightly thick sauce.
  8. Dish up and serve immediately with steamed rice.

SUGGESTIONS:
You can replace the char siew with other proteins. Here are some suggestions :-
  • Julienned/sliced luncheon meat (SPAM)
  • Sliced leftover roast chicken meat.
  • For a vegetarian variation, use sliced fresh mushrooms and a teaspoon of chopped red chilli.
    **As mushrooms release a lot of liquid, there should be no need to add any water while cooking. You may need to use a bit more of the corn/tapioca slurry to thicken excess sauce.
    Cucumber, stir fried with mushrooms (vegetarian version)