Given I have cucumbers
When I prepare my favorite cucumber dish
Then everyone at the dinner table is happy
We all know “Cucumber” is the buzzword for BDD, but the vast majority of the population knows it only as a vegetable. My wife and I prepare a special Chinese cucumber dish about once a week that’s fresh, tasty, and nutritious. It is very easy to prepare, since it requires no cooking. It may be served chilled or at room temperature, which makes it great for warm weather. As a change of pace for my blog, I’d like to share my cucumber recipe. C’mon, a panda’s gotta eat!
I strongly recommend against substitutions. This recipe is best with authentic ingredients. Specifically, do not substitute the cucumber variety – “regular” cucumbers won’t work. If you cannot find the required ingredients at a regular grocery store, Asian supermarkets will carry them.
- About 8 Persian cucumbers (or about 4 Japanese cucumbers)
- 1 tbsp white rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp soy sauce (light soy sauce preferred)
- 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp dumpling sauce (or substitute additional vinegar, soy sauce, and oil)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 cloves minced garlic (or a healthy pinch of garlic powder)
- Sesame seeds (optional garnish)
Prep time: 15 minutes, tops.
The best way to prepare this dish is to use a Chinese cleaver (also called the “Chinese chef knife”). After washing the cucumbers, chop off the ends. Then, one at a time, smash the cucumber with the flat side of the knife. Literally swing your arm as if hammering a nail. The weight of the blade will smash the cucumber into about four strips lengthwise. Beware that seeds and guts may fly out. Then, chop the pieces into one-inch segments. (If you don’t have a Chinese cleaver, you can smash the cucumbers with a rolling pin. Other knives simply don’t have the weight to break up the cucumbers effectively.)
Combine the cucumber pieces and all of the other ingredients (except the sesame seeds) into a flat-bottomed dish or wide bowl. Stir everything together and let rest. A flat bottom allows the cucumbers to soak up the sauce; regular bowls will leave the cucumbers on top somewhat flavorless. Top with sesame seeds for garnish. This dish may be served after a few minutes of resting, or it may be chilled and served later. (Please note that the texture of the cucumbers is not as good after more than a day in the refrigerator.)
- The Mandarin word for “cucumber” is “黄瓜” (“huángguā” in Pinyin, pronounced “hwang-gwa”), which directly translates to “yellow melon” or “yellow gourd” in English. Asian varieties of cucumbers have a much yellower hue than their Western counterparts, as is apparent when making this dish.
- China grows about three-quarters of the world’s cucumber crop.
- Cucumbers originated in India.
- Cucumbers are about 96% water.