Cucumber Stir Fried with Chicken and Cashew Nuts

stirfried_cucpI 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 herย 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:

Cucumber Fried with Perilla (Shiso)
Cucumber Fried with Perilla (Shiso)

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)ย 

1 teaspoon water

1 teaspoon sake

1 teaspoon syrup or sugar ย (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.


36 Replies to “Cucumber Stir Fried with Chicken and Cashew Nuts”

  1. Must be more exciting to eat the warm to hot cucumber instead the boring cold ones. I’ve never had it, so it will be the first for me and a must try. Love those brown seared marks — makes the food look delicious. Thank you Sissi! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I don’t care for cucumber so I wonder what to use as a substitute. Maybe celery? Chicken and cashew nuts are winners though. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thank you (though chicken and cashew nuts are in the majority of my stir-fries, so I already consider them as very ordinary ๐Ÿ™‚ ). You can put celery of course, but maybe it needs several more minutes of cooking.

  3. Chicken and cashew nuts are a favorite combination of mine, but I’ve never thought of adding cucumbers to them. The resultant dish should be quite filling! Now that cucumbers have reduced in price these days, I hope I can make a similar dish in the near future.

    1. Thank you, Hiroyuki. It’s very light, actually (thanks to cucumber which has so few calories, no fat etc..). Crunchy, but warm cucumber is an interesting discovery. I eat a lot of raw cucumber in salads and side-dishes because it’s so low-calorie (and because I like the taste too!), so I’m glad to be able to add this diet “filler” to warm dishes too.

  4. I have to admit that, like you Sissi, I hadn’t heard of fried cucumber before or even warm cucumber but it does sound intriguing. We eat a lot of cucumber because it’s such a tasty, refreshing vegetable. I’ve also been putting it into our juices and it adds a lovely, refreshing flavour. Some of our spa’s in Toronto serve cucumber water, which is simply adding sliced cucumber to fresh cold water and allowing it to sit (20 minutes should do it) and it’s absolutely delicious! Add a little sliced lime to it and it’s almost like a cocktail, sans the buzz!!!
    Your dish looks beautiful, so fresh and vibrant. I also love cashews but seldom have them at home because they have an uncanny habit of evaporating into thin air! Or even worse, incessantly calling my name out in the most inopportune times so that the only way to shut them up is to eat them! They are the most belligerent nut for sure (in my house anyway)!

    1. Thank you so much, Eva. I am addicted to cucumber because I like the taste and it’s almost zero calorie too… so it’s a perfect filler to salads, wraps, rolls, open sandwiches… And discovering I can have it also in warm dishes was really great!
      I also love cashew nuts. My favourite nuts in stir-fries and I somehow manage to have them constantly at home… even though I sometimes snack on them. I think peanuts can be used here too.
      I have recently heard something very sad: apparently raw cucumbers prevent the absorption of vitamin C, so they shouldn’t be paired with vegetables/fruits rich in vitamin C (unless one doesn’t care for vitamin C of course). Pickled (fermented) are a completely different story: they don’t act in this way and are rich in vitamin C.

  5. Interesting to know how the warm cucumber’s texture and taste like. I must remember to include cucumber next time I make stir fry. Looks delicious!

  6. Oh Sissi, you just reminded me that cucumber can be cooked…my mom used to cook cucumber and I totally forgot about it…your dish looks delicious…I will try to remember next time buying cucumbers.
    Hope you are having a fabulous week ๐Ÿ˜€

  7. Stir fried cucumber? I’ve heard of it, but have never tried it. However, as always, you sure make it look good and the fact that YOU speak so highly of its flavor tells me that I am missing out on something big here. I just happen to have a half of a cucumber in the refrigerator that might just end up in the skillet tomorrow to see how it taste. Love the seasoning you use and can definitely see how it could enhance the flavor of cucumber. This is a very light and tasty little meal you’ve creating and so easy to make!!! Great job Sissi!

    1. Thanks a lot, MJ. I’m very flattered by your comment ๐Ÿ™‚ Well, cucumber is cucumber… but if you like it raw, I’m sure you will love it in stir-fries. Just make sure it stays crunchy! It absorbs the seasoning/sauces but adds a crisp, fresh accent to the whole dish (and it’s almost zero kcal!!!).

  8. It’s interesting, the only time I’ve stir-fried cucumber is when I ran out of zucchini. Because of the very high water content in cucumber, I tend to think of zucchini as slightly more resilient under pressure/heat (although it too is full of water) — I will have to try this experiment again as it’s been quite a while since I’ve done so. Yes, it makes sense to keep the peel on for sure, otherwise I might find a little puddle of water in my pan ๐Ÿ™‚ — cucumber is abundant and gorgeous right now at the market although the ones I currently have are reserved for your salad ๐Ÿ™‚ but I think I will head back tomorrow for more…your seared cashews look gorgeous Sissi, xx

    1. Thank you, Kelly. I must say in my constant fight between lack of self-control and my weight/waist watch, cucumber has saved me lots of kcal (and kilos certainly!) but until recently only in cold dishes (salads, toasts, side-dishes). It’s funny that you mention courgette because I had always repeated that my two favourite guilt-free and most versatile “fillers” are courgette for warm dishes and cucumber for cold ones. Now I can also play with cucumber in warm dishes! (I do have courgette in cold dishes, but it’s not as versatile as cucumber I think). The only thing I would advise is making sure cucumber stays crunchy: you just want to reheat it and maybe soften a bit… I can imagine that mushy cucumber might be really bad.

  9. This looks really delicious! I love cucumbers, but used to only have them raw, which is very good, but using them in cooked dishes opens up a whole new world of flavor with them! I’m working on a warm rice salad that I will post soon. Right after I try this ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thank you so much, Donalyn. You are right: this is exactly what I thought the first time I fried cucumber.

    1. Thank you so much, Katerina. Cashew nuts are my favourite in savoury dishes (and with chicken they are perfect, as you say).

  10. Sissi I have heard of cucumbers stir-fried in Asian recipes, but have never tried it. I just bookmarked a recent stir-fried cashew chicken recipe from Pinterest wit cashews…but that didn’t have the cucumbers. I think I will re-create a wonderful recipe…combining yours and the other one with the cucumbers! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you, Elisabeth. You should try it. It has a lovely fresh, neutral taste and is good as long as you keep it crunchy.

  11. On no, not cooked cucumber again. We had this discussion long time ago. I tried it after you posted your previous cucumber recipe – wasn’t very appealing to me. I still prefer them raw or pickled. I think its psychological since cooked cucumber is probably not very different from cooked zucchini! But I still prefer them raw or pickled.

    1. I didn’t remember you were not a fan of cooked cucumber. I’m sorry to scare you but there is a big chance you will see more cooked cucumber recipes here, not only because I’m a big fan ๐Ÿ˜‰ Two friends recently told me they tested and loved this discovery… It’s surprising that you don’t like it: my husband who doesn’t like raw cucumber, finds the stir-fried one delicious. (He also dislikes courgette, cooked or raw).

      1. But your husband likes ANZAC cookies, so his taste isn’t that bad:)
        BTW I will most likely visit Switzerland this summer – Lausanne I think and maybe some other parts. Will let you know in case I am near your neighborhood. It would be great to meet.
        Have a great weekend, and those cucumbers – pickle them…

        1. Do let me know if you pass not far from my city! It’d be nice to meet indeed! I hope I’ll be here at the same time.

  12. This looks wonderful. And I’ve never thought of using cucumber in stir fries before – great idea!

    1. Hi Karen, in fact it’s similar to courgette in its neutral taste and crunchiness (unless overcooked) but it has an additional very fresh flavour. My husband who doesn’t like courgette, loves fried cucumber!

  13. Hi Sissi, I think I told you before that I too know of the joys of stir-fried cucumber. My sister’s previous husband (RIP ๐Ÿ™ ) served cucumber spears stir-fried with chilli (he was Chinese and a real whiz in the kitchen) once. I thought it was a bit… “weird” but when I tried it, it was so good! Totally works. You wouldn’t think so, right?

    I agree about cashew nuts being amazing in this kind of dish – thanks for sharing this new method of cooking up cucumber! I’ll be sure to try it soon!

    1. Thanks a lot, Charles. Now I think I remember you saying you liked also fried cucumber.
      It’s weird how we get used to something only raw or only cooked and then are afraid of eating it prepared in a different way (I know some people who are afraid of eating raw beetroot or raw asparagus or courgette…). I’m glad I tested the Chinese cucumber recipe first because I feel I have discovered a completely new vegetable.

  14. Perfect weeknight meal, right here! I don’t have cashew nuts in my pantry. I don’t use for baking or cooking, but this looks so good that I’d definitely consider buying some for this dish. I think they are a great accent to this dish. The nutty flavor is wonderful addition too. I love cooking with chicken and cucumber lately and I’ve been testing some recipes. Love seeing this dish!

    1. You don’t have cashew nuts? I wouldn’t survive without them! Actually I substitute them for peanuts in many stir-fries where usually peanuts are added, so I must have them all the time. I find them more delicate than peanuts, so they don’t disturb even the most delicate taste, adding however some crunch and toasted flavours (though peanuts suit better some other dishes and I like them a lot too). Thank you so much for the compliments. I am looking forward to discovering your cucumber dishes too.

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