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.
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
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.
© 1996 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.