The thought of hot cucumber is probably unappealing to some people but this quick and easy side dish will convert naysayers. In this warm spicy number, the cucumber is still crunchy and refreshing.
- 1 large telegraph cucumber
- 60 ml (¼ cup) vegetable oil
- 10 medium garlic cloves, gently bashed
- 2 long red chillies, cut into thin slices on a diagonal
- splash of light soy
- splash of Chinese black vinegar
- 200 g cloud ear fungus
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp toasted white and black sesame seeds
- white pepper
- river salt flakes
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Peel your cucumber, cut it in half down the middle and scrape out the seeds. Cut the deseeded strips on an angle into about 4 cm widths, set aside.
Place a wok over a medium heat, give it a brief moment to heat up and then add in the vegetable oil, closely followed by the garlic and a good pinch of salt. Use your wok spoon to gently swish the garlic around the wok for about a minute.
Add in the chilli and turn the heat to high, keeping the ingredients in the wok moving around for another minute. You want the garlic beginning to colour and the chillies starting to darken.
Add in the cucumber and give the wok a nice couple of tosses to coat the cucumber and combine everything. Splash in some soy, vinegar and white pepper and continue tossing, making sure to taste for seasoning.
As soon as you’re happy with the flavour, add in the cloud ear fungus and give it another moment or so in the wok, still tossing. Turn off the heat and then add the sesame oil and give it a final toss.
Serve on a sharing plate and sprinkle over the sesame seeds to finish.
• This dish is best eaten straight from the wok but is also perfectly acceptable served at room temperature.
If you don’t have a wok, you can make this dish in a frying pan, just give it a little more time in the beginning to heat up.
• If you can’t find the delicate cloud ear fungus, you can use the thicker black fungus and add it to the recipe at the same time as the cucumber.
Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Tiffany Page.
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This recipe is part of The seasonal cook: Cucumber column.
View previous The seasonal cook columns and recipes.