Cucumbers are almost always eaten raw here in the United States. In China, however, they’re almost always cooked, either stir-fried or boiled (as in this recipe). Cooking them gives them a rounder and more subtle flavor, but they still taste clean and fresh.
Black bean garlic sauce (蒜蓉豆豉酱, suàn róng dòuchǐ jiàng) is a cooking condiment that is widely available in Chinese markets everywhere. This recipe, however, shows you one way to make this tasty sauce from scratch. After seeing how easy it is, it’s hard to ever think of going back to the bottled sauce from the store.
The first step is to draw some of the moisture out of the cucumbers, which will preserve their crunchiness while cooking. To do this, coat the sliced cucumber pieces in salt and let them drain in a colander.
After blanching the cucumbers, they look like this:
Assemble the ingredients for the black bean garlic sauce.
Fermented black beans (豆豉, dòuchǐ) are available at your local Chinese market. This is the brand I picked up last time:
And this is what the black bean garlic sauce looks like when it’s finished:
INGREDIENTS and PREP:
- 1 english cucumber, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, and then cut into slices; salted well and left to drain in a colander for at least 20 minutes, then rinsed
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 Tbsp fermented black beans (豆豉, dòuchǐ), rinsed to remove some of their saltiness
- 1 tsp potato flour, 1 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine, 1 Tbsp dark soy sauce, 2 Tbsp water; mixed well
- Heat a pot of water to boiling, then add the salted and rinsed cucumber (#1) and cook for 2 minutes, then drain the cucumber pieces and run with cold water to stop them from cooking further. Dry them on a paper towel.
- Heat 1 Tbsp peanut oil in your wok until barely smoking. Then add the garlic (#2) and stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Next add the black beans (#3) and stir fry for another 30 seconds.
- Turn the heat down and add the sauce ingredients (#4), then stir until the sauce is heated through and thickened.
- Arrange the cucumber pieces on a serving plate and top with the black bean garlic sauce.
VARIATIONS: Use this tasty homemade black bean garlic sauce for any recipe that calls for it.