It was always a festive occasion when there was a stuffed vegetable on the dinner table, for this meant my mother had had the time to make a complicated dish. One of my favourite dishes from my childhood is stuffed bitter melon. When it was not in season, my mother would substitute cucumbers. They lend themselves to stuffing because their tender, succulent flesh complements so many savoury fillings. Thick cucumber slices are stuffed and then shallow-fried, which seals in the flavours of the stuffing. Then the cucumbers are simmered with seasonings to create the sauce. I think you will agree that this dish would enhance any table on a festive occasion.
Cut the cucumbers into 2.5 cm (
Heat a wok or large frying pan over a high heat until it is hot. Swirl in
Mix the stock, rice wine, oyster sauce, soy sauces and sugar and pour them into the reheated wok or pan. Bring the liquid to a simmer, then layer in all the stuffed cucumber rings. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer slowly for 7 minutes, or until the cucumbers are completely cooked. Transfer them to a serving platter, lifting them out of the sauce with a slotted spoon.
Pour in the cornflour mixture and simmer until slightly thickened, then reduce the sauce by a third over a high heat. Swirl in the sesame oil and sprinkle in the fresh coriander. Pour the sauce over the stuffed cucumbers and serve at once.
© 1998 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.