It's been almost a month now since I published Eating for Health and Happiness, Fuchsia Dunlop 'Every Grain of Rice' Interview...
I thought it was time to follow up with second recipe excerpted from Every Grain of Rice, Simple Chinese Home Cooking (W.W. Norton, February 2013).
Stir-fried cucumber with wood ear Huang gua mu’er
Stir-fried cucumber can be a revelation if you’ve never imagined eating it hot. This recipe, a simple marriage of sliced cucumber and frilly cloud or wood ear mushrooms, is a Sichuanese supper dish taught to me by Chef Zhang Xiaozhong. Add a little pork if you like (see variation, right).
And if you have neither pork nor mushrooms, sliced cucumber simply stir-fried on its own, with a little salt, can be really wonderful, bringing out a whole new side to this familiar vegetable.
A handful of wood ear mushrooms (about 4 oz/100g, after soaking)
4 oz (100g) cucumber
1 spring onion, trimmed
1 Sichuanese pickled chilli or 1/2 fresh red chilli
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 tbsp peeled, sliced garlic
1 tbsp peeled, sliced ginger
Light soy sauce, to taste
1/4 tsp potato flour mixed with 1 tsp cold water
Pour hot water from the kettle over the mushrooms and leave to soak for 30 minutes.
Cut the cucumber section lengthways into thin slices. Lay these flat on a chopping board and, holding the knife at an angle, cut them into diamond-shaped slices. Drain the wood ears and, if they are large, break them into bite-sized pieces. Cut the spring onion and pickled or red chilli on the diagonal into “horse ears.”
Heat a seasoned wok over a high flame. Add the oil, then the garlic, ginger, pickled chilli or red chilli and the spring onion and stir-fry briefly until you can smell their fragrances. Then add the cucumber and mushrooms and stir-fry until everything is piping hot.
Add 1 tbsp water, season with a little salt and light soy sauce to taste, then pour in the flour mixture, stirring vigorously as you do so. Stir a couple of times more, then serve.
Stir-fried cucumber with pork and wood ear
Cut 3 oz (75g) lean pork into thin slices. Marinate in a couple of pinches of salt, 2 tsp Shaoxing wine, 1/2 tsp potato flour and 11/2 tsp cold water. Stir-fry the pork slices briefly to separate them before you add the garlic and other seasonings, then proceed as in the main recipe above.
(* Reprinted from Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking by Fuchsia Dunlop. Copyright © 2012 by Fuchsia Dunlop. Photographs copyright © 2012 by Chris Terry. With the permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company)