Refreshing Cucumber with Noodles

Cucumbers are too often ignored or taken for granted. But they have their virtues and this recipe displays them nicely. Prepared this way, the cucumbers retain their distinctive taste and a bit of their crunchiness. This noodle dish takes minutes to cook in the wok and is a sparkling alternative to potatoes or rice. It is a perfect vegetarian dish.

Ingredients

  • 225 g (8 oz) fresh or dried thin egg noodles
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 750 g ( lb) cucumbers (about )
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions
  • 2 teaspoons chilli bean sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil

Method

If you are using fresh noodles, blanch them first by boiling them for 3-5 minutes in a pot of boiling water. If you are using dried noodles, cook them in boiling water for 4-5 minutes. Plunge the noodles in cold water, drain them thoroughly, toss them in sesame oil and put them aside until you are ready to use them. They can be kept in this state, if tightly covered with 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 7.5-cm x 3 mm (3 x ⅛-in) shreds. Sprinkle them with the salt and mix well. Put the mixture in a colander and let it sit for 20 minutes 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 until it is 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, chilli bean sauce, salt, pepper and sugar and stir for another 30 seconds until they are well coated with the spices and flavourings. Continue to stir-fry over a high heat for 3-4 minutes 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.

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