Stir-fried cucumber might not sound very exciting at first, but with the right treatment you can turn those cylindrical fruits into a tasty side dish that's both vegan and gluten-free.
Featuring flavourful aromatics and the unique blend that is Chinese five spice, the fried cucumber tastes even better after a night in the fridge. Although not intended as a main dish, you could easily bulk it out with other ingredients to create a more well-rounded meal.
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Can you fry cucumbers?
You most certainly can! Despite their high water content, cucumbers respond well to frying and have a tender texture while still retaining some of that trademark crunch.
Do they taste good?
They sure do, which is largely down to the Chinese five spice and other aromatics used in this recipe. They're best after having cooled down slightly, or even the next day after spending a night in the fridge.
What you'll need
I like my fried cucumbers as follows:
- Cucumber as the star of the show
- Aromatics in the form of garlic, ginger, and chilli
- Chinese five spice for its distinctive blend of flavours
- Toasted sesame oil for its unique nuttiness
- Toppings such as spring onions, coriander leaves, and sesame seeds
How to make stir-fried cucumber
Heat a large frying pan or wok on medium/high heat and add the cooking oil. Once hot, add the garlic, ginger, and chilli, and fry for 20-30 seconds.
After 20-30 seconds, add the cucumber pieces and sprinkle with the salt. Stir or toss regularly for around 4-5 minutes or until starting to soften, increasing the heat slightly at first if necessary.
If the cucumber seems to be sticking or catching at any point, reduce the heat and continue to stir well.
Once the cucumber has started to soften, add the toasted sesame oil and Chinese five spice.
Stir or toss to coat all the cucumber pieces and turn off the heat.
Allow to cool slightly and serve.
I like to serve the fried cucumber with toppings such as sliced spring onions, sesame seeds, coriander leaves, and fresh chilli. Crispy chilli oil also works very well.
This recipe is 100% gluten-free as written. If you were wanting to add a soy sauce flavour but keep the dish gluten-free, you could use tamari (or a soy sauce that's certified GF).
Peeling isn't necessary here, unless your cucumbers have a particularly tough skin and you'd prefer to remove it. By leaving the skin on, you'll get a nice contrast of textures while limiting food waste.
Absolutely, and in fact it arguably tastes better after a night in the fridge and served cold the next day.
Store in the fridge for up to three days. Due to the high water content in the cucumbers, I wouldn't recommend freezing.
Variations and tips for cucumber stir-fry
- Make it a meal: These fried cucumbers alone are not intended to be a main meal. If you like, you could bulk this recipe out with other veg and legumes such as chickpeas or black beans, then serve with rice or rice noodles for a more well-rounded dish.
- Sweetness: Try adding a little agave syrup or maple syrup for a sweeter flavour.
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Stir-Fried Cucumber with Chinese Five Spice
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- ½ red chilli, chopped (optional)
- 2 medium cucumbers, halved lengthways and sliced into 1 cm semi discs (approx. 1 lb / 500 g total weight)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
- Heat a large frying pan or wok on medium/high heat and add the cooking oil. Once hot, add the garlic, ginger, and chilli, and fry for 20-30 seconds.
- After 20-30 seconds, add the cucumber pieces and sprinkle with the salt. Stir or toss regularly for around 4-5 minutes or until starting to soften, increasing the heat slightly at first if necessary.
- If the cucumber seems to be sticking or catching at any point, reduce the heat and continue to stir well.
- Once the cucumber has started to soften, add the toasted sesame oil and Chinese five spice. Stir or toss to coat all the cucumber pieces and turn off the heat.
- Allow to cool slightly and serve with sliced spring onions, sesame seeds, and coriander leaves. I find that this is even better after a night in the fridge, so you could also prepare it ahead of time and serve cold.📸 See photos of this recipe being made or jump to the table of contents to learn more.
Storage: Store in the fridge for up to three days. Due to the high water content in the cucumbers, I wouldn't recommend freezing. If you liked this recipe, you might also enjoy:
- Chickpea Stir-Fry with Peanut Sauce
- Teriyaki Tempeh Stir-Fry
- Courgette Salad with Peanut Dressing
- Vegan Raita with Cucumber and Mint
- Cucumber Salad with Sesame Ginger Dressing
- Teriyaki Grilled Tofu
- Singapore Noodles with Tofu
- Vegan Cucumber Sandwiches
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