This is an extraordinary way of cooking cucumber, revealing an unexpected side to the vegetable. Although cooked in a wok, the cucumber pieces are colored by laying them more-or-less flat against the surface of the wok, a method known in Chinese as jian (pan-fry) rather than chao (stir-fry). From the Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook.
- 1 cucumber
- 1 fresh red chile, seeded and finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- chopped fresh sweet basil leaves (or purple perilla leaves)
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons peanut oil (for cooking)
Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and then, with the knife at an angle, cut each half into slanted, almost semicircular slices about 1/4 inch thick.
Heat the wok over a high flame until smoke rises, then add the oil and swirl around; add the cucumber and fry for a few minutes until the slices are tinged a little golden.
Spread the slices out so they cover as much as possible of the bottom of the wok, turning from time to time.
Add the chili and garlic to the wok and stir-fry until fragrant, adding the soy sauce as you go; splash the vinegar around the side of the wok and mix well. Add the herbs and stir a few times; then, off the heat, stir in the sesame oil and serve.