Veggie Challenged - One of my favorite recipes: "Hot" cucumber salad

12-03-2009, 02:31 PM
I'm ethnically Chinese and have always found that I despise most American vegetable recipes -- they're just not as good as the meat or carbs! ;) -- but love vegetable dishes when my parents cook them, so I thought I'd offer a few possibilities to try. These aren't restaurant dishes and they're pretty healthy but not calorie-free, as a caveat -- don't use them to replace salad, but they're certainly much much better than anything based on casseroles. This one is about as healthy as grilling: a little oil but not much. :)

"Hot" cucumber salad: One of my ABSOLUTE favorite foods, and takes less than ten minutes.
1. Slice two whole large (or three small) English cucumbers (the thin, long ones) into tiny slices -- as thin as possible, about a millimeter or so. (Peeling first is optional and up to you.) Also slice a small handful of parsley and/or green onions.
2. Put a tablespoon or so of a light vegetable oil -- we use canola because it's cheap and mostly flavorless, but sesame also works -- into a wok and heat it up over high flame for 15-20 seconds.
3. Throw in the cucumber and stir it around quickly (with a wooden spatula or spoon) for about 20 seconds until is softens *just a bit*.
4. Toss in a few pinches of salt -- we shake it on, but I think it's about 1/3 teaspoon altogether. Keep stirring/tossing with your wooden spatula!
5. Now add water (about 1/3 of a cup or so, to cover the bottom of the pan) and turn the dish down to low heat (simmer). Add a sprinkle (1/3 of a small cube or so) of chicken boullion, as well as the parsley or green onions (which gives it an excellent edge and color). Taste "broth" to make sure the salt/boullion/oil balance is what you like.
6. Simmer for about 30 seconds to a minute tops: the cucumber should NOT be completely softened yet -- remove just as it's getting clear (or softened to taste). Drain the water (and the oil!) before serving.

Voila: lightly stir-fried cucumber (of all things, lol) with plenty of taste and very few calories. :) This recipe should make 5 or so servings.

12-03-2009, 02:34 PM
I'll have to try that, I never would have thought of stir-frying cucumber.

12-03-2009, 03:49 PM
Funny - I just read the book "Julie & Julia" and one of the recipes was for braised cucumbers. Julie and her husband were not keen on the idea, but then really liked it - she said in an interview that that was her favorite Julia Child recipe. Think I'll have to try cooked cucumbers soon, now that I have read about it twice :)

12-03-2009, 03:51 PM
This is such a fantastic idea and I am so stoked to try it. Thanks very much for sharing it!! I think it will become a new favorite :)

12-03-2009, 04:26 PM
I was planning on eating cucumber tonight with dinner... I think I'll try this. Thanks!

12-03-2009, 04:42 PM
The owner of our favorite restaurant is Hmong, and she makes this awesome chicken and cucumber stir-fry. I love it.

I agree that most american-style vegetable dishes arent really dishes - they're heated up (at worst, boiled within an inch of disintegration), plain veggies dressed with at most, a bit of butter (or too much butter). And some veggies are tasty that way, but too often they're boring and not very flavorful (or full of the wrong flavors).

I also mostly lean towards asian ways to prepare veggies, especially stir-fries because they're tasty, quick and can be done calorie-conscioulsy. Ethnically (by birht) I'm Dutch, English, Frengh, German, Irish, and Scottish and ( because I was adopted as an infant) was raised Italian/German/Polish (my parents were third generation, so many of the ethnic dishes in the family had been americanized or only made an appearance during holidays like Easter and Christmas.

Many of the german and polish vegetable dishes had large amounts of bacon or other fatty meats to veggies (in the countries of origin they weren't side-dishes, but main dishes high in calories and fat, because it had to fuel hard manual labor on the farm). What was originally a rather small amount of meat in a main dish, became a large amount of meat for a side-dish.

Still, I do have a special fondness for cabbage sauteed with bacon and onion.
I use less bacon, and I don't make it very often, but for every-day veggies I'm more likely to choose asian-style methods for veggies.

12-04-2009, 01:00 AM
Let me know how this dish worked out! Cucumber is my one of my absolute favorite vegetables because it's so crisp, fresh, and easy to prepare in so many ways. And, yeah, the one thing my mother taught me about cooking is that you can stir-fry anything. *grin*

12-04-2009, 01:23 AM
Whenever I've cooked cucumber (sauteed, stir-fried, or roasted), it's alot like zucchini in flavor and texture. In fact, I've used them cucumber, zucchini, and yellow squash interchangeably in recipes and it works out well.

12-04-2009, 05:25 PM
Thank you -- I just added cucumbers to my shopping list! I used to HATE (raw) cucumbers but I taught myself to get used to them (so I could eat them at restaurants and whatnot), and now I've even been known to buy them to use in salads. But I've never tried cooking them, that sounds really interesting!

I'd love any more Chinese or Chinese-inspired recipes you have to share with us. :D