I don’t know if you have the habit of eating cooked warm cucumber, but for me, even after a year, it’s still an astonishing discovery. Since I learnt this new way to serve it, thanks to Fuchsia Dunlop’s Cucumber Fried with Perilla (from her Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook), I haven’t stopped experimenting, especially with stir-fries. Fried cucumber never fails to deliver tasty results, whatever the seasoning or ingredients it is paired with and its sole presence here made me consider this simple stir-fry worth sharing with you. This delicately seasoned refreshing dish is a great quick meal idea and a perfect introduction for those who haven’t dared frying cucumber yet.
If you look rather for a cucumber side-dish, you might like this Chinese dish:
TIPS: I never peel the cucumber (unless I use the thick skinned, short ones; then I peel half of it). Peel the whole cucumber if you really have to, but you will lose much of its pleasant crunchiness.
Cashew nuts are my favourite in stir-fries, but you can use unsalted peanuts instead.
You can substitute leek white part with white parts of spring onions.
Preparation: 20 minutes
Ingredients (serves one):
1/2 chicken breast
1/3 of a long cucumber
white part of a small leek, sliced (or half of a big leek’s white part, there should be about 2 heaped tablespoonfuls)
10 cashew nuts
1 tablespoon soy sauce (or more if using low-sodium sauce)
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon sake
1 teaspoon syrup or sugar (I used agave syrup)
1 teaspoon corn starch
Cut up the chicken breast into bite-sized pieces and season it slightly with salt.
Cut up the cucumber into bite-sized thick match-like pieces.
Combine the sauce ingredients in a glass or small bowl.
Heat a small amount of oil in a pan or wok. Roast the cashew nuts until slightly golden. Put them aside.
Add more oil and stir fry the chicken pieces for about five minutes.
Add the leek pieces and continue stir frying until the chicken is cooked.
Add the cucumber and stir fry for about 3 more minutes.
Add the cashew nuts, the sauce and heat, constantly stirring, until the sauce thickens (maximum one minute, but usually 30 seconds are enough).
Serve with rice.