Spicy Chinese Cucumber – recipe

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Cool as a crispy, cold , crunchy, capsicum capped cucumber.

These are a little different.  I found these cucumbers at our current favorite Chinese buffet restaurant.  For me, it’s worth the price of the dinner just to sit and nibble on them all night.

1 large cucumber, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried crushed red peppers, or to your personal tolerance
2 tablespoons vinegar

Peel the cucumber.
By whatever method suits your fancy, cut the cucumber in small “spears”.
Try this method:
Cut the cucumber in half the short way.
Slice each half down the middle the long way.
Scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
Slice each half down the middle again into quarters the long way.
Slice each quarter into about 3 or 4 spears the long way.
Watch your fingers on this last step.  But don’t watch them be cut by your knife.

This can be a one dish dish (that’s right dish squared), by picking the right cooking vessel.  In this case I used a small stove-top safe ceramic casserole dish to cook (really non-cook), chill and serve in.  See picture.

Heat the olive oil over very low heat.  Add the garlic and red peppers.  Let this very gently simmer for a few minutes.  We don’t want to cook anything.  All we want to do is extract the flavors from the peppers and garlic into the oil.  A little low heat is all we need.

Remove from the heat.  Mix in the vinegar.  Add the cucumber spears and toss to coat the spears.  Cover and refrigerate until cold.  Overnight works fine also.

Notes

These were close to the restaurant’s, but not exactly the same.  For the next batch, I’ll try extracting excess water from the cucumbers with some salt to make them crisper.   I’ll also try a little less oil and regular vegetable oil instead of olive oil.  If either change makes a difference, I’ll update this recipe.   However, overall, these are pretty close.

You can find similar recipes on the web.  Most of them add in sugar.  The first time I made these, I used sugar.  But I found they were not as hot as they should be.  Since sugar is a natural antagonist (follow this link to know more than you ever cared to know) to the heat from peppers, leave out the sugar to get the heat back.

If you like a little spice in your life and have never had anything like this, give them a try.  Making them is far easier than finding a restaurant that serves them.

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