750gm (1½ lb) cucumbers (about 1½ inch size cubes)
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp groundnut or vegetable oil
1½ tbsp garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp black beans, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 tbsp spring onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp chilli bean sauce
1 tbsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp sugar
120ml (4 fl oz) water
2 tsp sesame oil
1. Peel the cucumbers, slice them in half lengthways and, using a teaspoon, remove the seeds. Then cut the cucumber halves into 2.5 cm (1 inch) cubes. Sprinkle them with the salt and mix well. Put the mixture into a colander and let it sit for 20 minutes to drain. This rids the cucumber of any excess liquid.
2. When the cucumber cubes have drained, rinse them in water and then blot them dry with kitchen paper.
3. Heat a wok or large frying-pan over high heat until it is hot.
4. Add the oil, and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the garlic, black beans, ginger and spring onions and stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Then add the cucumbers, chilli bean sauce, salt, pepper and sugar and stir for another 30 seconds until they are well coated with the spices and flavourings.
5. Add the water and 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 and serve immediately.
As a Chinese, I was always surprised to see non-Chinese eating cucumbers raw, says celebrity chef Ken Hom. We Chinese never eat cucumbers raw. We prefer them when they are in season, young, tender and bursting with juice. If they are not pickled then they must be cooked.
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