I just returned from a trip to Europe–and came home to a stack of all of my new November cooking magazines. Packed with images of pumpkins and turkeys and stuffing and pies, I was giddily jumping up and down, dog-earring the pages of all of the recipes I couldn’t wait to try. So many options, so little Fall days to cook! Many of the recipes I selected were heavy, soulful items. But these Taiwanese cucumbers were a bright contrast. One, they require no cooking. Two, they were a welcome shock of bright green color. Three, they were Taiwanese! I decided to take these as a nibble, as a palate cleanser before a heavier, more traditional Sunday supper. What a hit. These were so crisp with this amazing smoky sesame flavor. Even better, they were healthy. I didn’t fill one shred of guilt gobbling them up. The main course on the other hand, was another story (and another post to this blog.)
I started by grinding up the sesame seeds, salt, and red chili flakes. The recipe called for mixing regular golden sesame seeds with salt. I found myself without those in the pantry, but I did have a golden/black sesame seed/sea salt spice mixture on hand, so I made that substitute. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, I mixed the sesame oil and rice wine vinegar together. The market had these beautiful kirby cucumbers on hand, so I substituted those too for the long seedless ones. Full disclosure here too: I was only making these for 2 people, not 12 as the recipe calls for, so kirby cucumbers made more sense anyway.
After mixing the dressing with the cucumbers and half of the sesame seed mix, I placed the bowl in the fridge to chill for about 20 minutes. To serve, I piled the cucumbers up on a platter, topped with the remaining sesame seeds and a bunch of chopped scallions. So cold, crisp, and well-seasoned–this shockingly easy munchie was loved by everyone (all 2 of us.) 🙂
Taiwanese Sesame Cucumbers
3 seedless cucumbers, chilled in the freezer for 10 minutes
1/2 cup toasted sesame oil
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 scallions, coarsely chopped
1. Cut the cucumbers lengthwise into eighths, then cut them crosswise into 2-inch-long sticks. In a large bowl, combine the sesame oil, vinegar and a large pinch of salt. Add the cucumbers and toss well. Let stand for 10 minutes, tossing a few times.
2. In a mini food processor, combine the sesame seeds, crushed red pepper and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Process until the sesame seeds are coarsely chopped. Add half of the mixture to the cucumbers and toss well. Arrange the cucumbers on a platter. Sprinkle with the remaining sesame seed mixture and the scallions and serve.