Stir-Fried Cucumbers With Spicy Ground Pork Recipe

Stir-Fried Cucumbers With Spicy Ground Pork Recipe

Cucumbers, not just for salads. [Photographs: Shao Z.]

Cucumbers might make you think of salads and pickles, but they're excellent as the main ingredient in stir fries as well. Exposed to the wok's intense heat, they become silky smooth with a juicy, meaty bite. In this easy recipe, they're paired with spicy ground pork.

Why It Works

  • Salting the cucumbers draws out their moisture, improving their texture while seasoning them.
  • A simple sauce made from soy sauce, sesame oil, and cornstarch adds flavor while thickening the liquid the cucumbers release in the wok.
  • Yield:2 to 4 servings
  • Active time: 30 minutes
  • Total time:1 hour

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds cucumbers (about 3 large cucumbers), partially peeled to create alternating peeled and unpeeled vertical strips, seeded, and cut on the bias 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • For the Marinated Pork:
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine
  • 1 teaspoon canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • For the Sauce and Stir-Fry:
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon canola or vegetable oil, divided
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of chili flakes, to taste
  • 1/2 head of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Cooked white rice, for serving

Directions

  1. 1.

    Place cucumbers in a large bowl and add the salt. Mix and toss until the cucumbers start to release a little bit of water, about 1 minute. Let stand for 30 minutes.

  2. 2.

    Meanwhile, For the Marinated Pork: In a small bowl, combine ground pork with the soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, oil, fish sauce, and cornstarch. Mix well and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.

  3. 3.

    For the Sauce and Stir-Fry: In a small bowl combine the water, soy sauce, sesame oil, and cornstarch. Mix well and set aside.

  4. 4.

    Drain cucumbers and rinse under cold running water. Drain well, then pat dry with paper towels.

  5. 5.

    In a wok, heat 1 teaspoon canola oil over high heat until smoking. Add marinated pork, spreading it out with a spatula so that it makes a thin layer. Let cook undisturbed for 30 seconds. Using the spatula, break the pork into small pieces. Add chili flakes to taste and continue stir-frying until the pork is cooked through and golden brown. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

  6. 6.

    Wipe the wok clean and add the remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil and heat over high heat until smoking. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 10 seconds. Add cucumbers and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Return pork to the wok and stir well. Mix the sauce with a spoon or chopstick and pour it into the wok. Continue cooking and stirring until the cucumbers begin to look glossy, about 30 seconds. Transfer cucmbers a plate and serve with rice.