The Cukes that Got Away

The above cukes are from the Edible Landscape garden at Dutchess County Farm & Home Center, Rt. 44, Millbrook, NY. They are supposed to be white like the one below at right.

The Edible Landscape is a project of the Dutchess County Master Gardeners.

Well, the master gardener volunteers were on vacation and the cukes took advantage of their absence. The cukes got away and turned into this beautiful, bright yellow color.

Pretty, yes. But just would not work out well in a fresh salad with lettuce and tomatoes.

After giving it some thoughts I decided to make a different kind of cucumber salad and while I was in the groove I also made a dish I named Cucumber Logs. You can also make a stir-fry as I mentioned in my September 16 post titled: The Elusive Cucumber!!!!!

Below are the two recipes.

CUCUMBER SALAD
Adapted from “Wokking Your Way to Lowfat Cooking” by Norma Chang

Ingredients
1/2 pound peeled and seeded cucumber cut into thin slices
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 – 2 tablespoons sugar or to taste
2 tablespoons unflavored rice vinegar or to taste

Preparation
1. Combine cucumber slices and salt in a bowl. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
2. Squeeze cucumber slices to extract as much liquid as possible. Place in a serving bowl. Add sugar and vinegar. Mix well, serve.

VARIATIONS
This dish is like a blank canvas. You can serve it as is or dress it up as much as you like.
(1) Add: 1 – 2 teaspoons, or to taste, Asian sesame oil and garnish with toasted black and/or white sesame seeds (see NOTE below).
(2) Add: shredded fresh ginger and/or thinly sliced fresh chili peppers to taste.
(3) Add: fresh mint, fresh parsley, carrots, chives, sweet peppers, red onion ……..

NOTE: When toasting black sesame seeds add a few white sesame seeds to use as guide. When the white sesame seeds reached desired doneness, the black ones are there also.

CUCUMBER LOGS
FromMy Students’ Favorite Chinese Recipes, updated edition by Norma Chang

Ingredients
3/4 pound lean ground pork
4 ounces raw shrimp, shelled, deveined and chopped finely (see NOTE below)
2 – 3 Chinese dried mushroom, soak in water at least 1/2 hour to soften. Remove and discard stems, chop caps finely
1 scallion, white and green parts, chopped finely
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
1 teaspoon  sugar, optional
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon soy sauce (regular or gluten free)
1 tablespoon giner wine (see Ginger Wine page)
Combine all the above in a mixing bowl. This is the filling. Can be done the day before and kept refrigerated.

3 – 5 cucumbers, peeled, cut into about 1″ – 1 1/2″ logs, from one end, remove seeds, leaving a thin layer at the other ends, or if you prefer, remove all seeds
4 – 5 tablespoons oil or as needed to coat bottom of frying pan
1/2 – 1 cup chicken broth
Kosher salt to taste
2 – 3 teaspoons cornstarch combine with 1 – 2 tablespoons water

Preparation
1. Fill hollowed out cucumber logs with meat mixture.
2. Add oil to preheated frying pan. Place filled cucumber logs, in one layer, meat side down into hot oil. Cook over high to medium high heat until meat is lightly browned.
3. Add broth, bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until cucumber is soft and filling is thoroughly cooked, about 20 minutes.
4. Remove cooked cucumber logs to serving platter, arranging meat side up.
5. Thicken gravy with cornstarch mixture. Adjust seasoning, spoon gravy over cucumber logs. Enjoy!

NOTE:  Allergic to shrimp? No problem,  leave out the shrimp and add more ground pork.

DIETARY RESTRICTIONSSubstitute: ground turkey (I prefer dark meat), chicken, beef or veal for the ground  pork.

KITCHEN HINT: Got a small amount of leftover filling? Make little meatballs and place them among cucumber logs during step 3.

Copyright © 2011 by Norma Chang

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About Norma Chang

I am the author/publisher of 2 user-friendly Chinese cookbooks: "My Students' Favorite Chinese Recipes (updated edition)" and "Wokking Your Way to Low Fat Cooking" A gardener who enjoys cooking and eating and loves to think outside the box A garden volunteer at Locust Grove Heritage Vegetable Garden Conduct hands-on cooking workshops for teenagers Conduct cultural programs for children and family Conduct healthy cooking classes for adults
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2 Responses to The Cukes that Got Away

  1. Merrilee says:

    I’ve died and gone to heaven! Cukes are my favorite vegetable and you’ve got so many ideas for me to try. I’d neve have thought of cooking them! Our family has a favorite quick and easy cucumber salad, you might try. Slice the cukes thinly, cover with cold water and cider vinegar mixture and add salt and pepper to taste. If you are serving them immediately, go heavier on the vinegar. If you have time for the mixture to marinate for a couple of hours in the refrig, less vinegar. Looking forward to more cucumber preparation ideas!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Merrilee,
      Glad I made you so happy!!!!! Thanks for the recipe, sounds simple and delicious. I will try it as soon as I get my hands on some cucumber. My plants stopped bearing.
      Norma

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