Pork Stuffed Cucumbers
Crunchy rings of cucumber hold a savory pork filling.
Cucumbers: peel cucumbers and cut into 1 1/2" lengths. Use an apple corer to scoop out seeds (you'll have little cucumber "tubes"). Sprinkle a little cornstarch on inside of each tube and set aside.
Filling: soak dried shrimp in 1 1/2 C hot water for 15 minutes till soft. Drain and chop soaked shrimp into small pieces. In a medium bowl, combine shrimp with remaining ingredients. Stuff pork mixture into cucumber tubes.
Frying: in a skillet or wok, heat oil over medium-high heat for 45 seconds. Gently place each cucumber piece in oil, cover, and cook 3 minutes or till bottom is golden. Carefully turn and cook the other side 1 minute. Reduce heat to low, add 1 C water (careful, it will splatter), cover, and simmer till water is nearly absorbed. Serve hot.
Tips & Glossary
Many ingredients used in Chinese cooking probably aren’t in your spice shelf, but you can find them at Asian grocery stores. To avoid frustration, make a list of the items before trying recipes.
Agar Agar: dried seaweed used as a gelatin. Buy it in sticks (or strips) and soak in cold water to soften.
Chili Oil: buy it or make your own. For a recipe, see Hunan Chicken.
Chinese Cabbage: aka “Nappa”;long, white stalks with light green crinkly leaves.
Deep Frying: use a deep-fry thermometer to reach the recipe's correct temperature; if the oil isn't hot enough, the food will be soggy. When cool, the oil can be strained, refrigerated, and re-used.
Dried Shrimp: tiny, salted, sun-dried shrimp that add a pungent flavor to Asian cooking. Soak before using.
Five-Spice Powder: blend of star anise, cinamon, cloves, fennel and Szechuan peppercorns. Like allspice.
Peppersalt: buy or make your own. Heat 2 T Szechuan peppercorns in skillet 5 min. Grind into powder and mix with 2 T salt.
Sauces: Hoisin (sweet, from soybeans); Oyster (like soy, from oysters); Sweet Bean (canned, salty, from soybeans); Hot Bean (hot & salty, from soybeans and peppers).
Sesame Paste: from gound sesame seeds; substitute with peanut butter.
Sweet Rice Powder: from glutinous rice; used in place of flour in many desserts.
Szechuan peppercorns: dried reddish berries, fragrant and mildly hot.
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