Thursday, November 15, 2007

Cucumber noodles

225g fresh or dried thin egg noodles
2tsp sesame oil
750g cucumbers
2tsp salt
2tbsp groundnut oil
1.5 tbsp finely chopped garlic
3tbsp finely chopped spring onion
2tsp chili bean sauce
1tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2tsp sugar
2tsp sesame oil

If you are using fresh noodles, blanch them first by boiling them for 3-5 min in a pot of boiling water. If you are using dried noodles, cook them in boiling water for 4-5 min. Plunge the noodles into cold water, drain them thoroughly, toss them in sesame oil and put them aside till you are ready to use them. They can be kept in this state, if tightly covered in cling film, for up to 2 hours in the fridge.

Peel the cucumbers, slice them in half lengthways, and using a teaspoon, remove the seeds. Then cut the cucumber halves into 7.5cmx3mm (3x1/8inch) shreds. Sprinkle them with salt and mix well. Put the mixture in a colander and let it sit for 20 min to drain. This rids the cucumber of any excess liquid. When the cucumber shreds have drained, rinse them in water and then squeeze any excess moisture from them in a linen tea towel. Set aside.
Heat a wok or large frying pan over a high heat till hot. Add the oil and when it is very hot and slightly smoking , add the garlic, spring onions, and cucumbers and stir fry for about 30 seconds, then add the noodles, chili bean sauce, salt pepper and sugar, an stir for another 30 seconds until they are well coated in the spices and flavorings. Continue to stir fry over high heat for 3-4 min until most of the water has evaporated and the cucumbers are cooked. At this point add the sesame oil, transfer to a warm platter and serve immediately.

I have to admit, this is a bit of a cheat. I forgot when I was about to make this, that you needed Chili bean sauce, which you would need to go to an actual East Asian grocery to get. It said in the book (Ken Hom) not to use the sweet chilli dipping sauce that you can get anywhere, because it is not the right flavor (the sweetness is wrong). Still, it was almost dinner time, and I had everything else I needed, and I’d never cooked with cucumbers before, so I decided to give it a go anyway. I used Oyster Sauce instead of the chili bean sauce. I know that’s probably horribly wrong, but it came out really nicely.

Turns out I like cooked cucumbers. They taste very sweet, and have that semi-crunchy-ish, but still soft-ish consistency that they have as pickles.

I know this is not what this dish was supposed to be, but it was very good, and I am going to seek out the chili bean sauce, so I can try it again properly.

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