Stir-Fried Cucumber With Tofu
This vegan take on the cucumber and pork stir-fry offers the perfect level of acid to balance out the spice. Cooked quickly over high heat, cucumbers become juicy, with a lovely silky texture that is still crisp to the bite. Salting the cucumbers before stir-frying is essential, as it draws out moisture and allows for more of the garlicky umami flavors of the sauce to be soaked up. The tofu delivers heartiness, while the hint of Sichuan chile flakes takes this dish to another level.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 2large cucumbers (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled in alternating vertical stripes, seeded, then cut on the bias 1/4-inch thick
- Kosher salt
- 3tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1(14-ounce) package extra-firm tofu, crumbled
- 1garlic clove, finely chopped
- Finely chopped scallions, toasted white sesame seeds and steamed rice, for serving (optional)
- Freshly ground white pepper
- 2tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
- 2tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1teaspoon sesame oil
- 1teaspoon cornstarch
- ½teaspoon red-pepper flakes
- ½teaspoon Sichuan chile flakes
Step 1Place cucumbers in a bowl, add 1 teaspoon salt, and gently massage the pieces. (This helps to release some of the water.) Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes until the cucumbers are slightly wet and pliable to the touch.
Step 2Prepare the sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients with 1 tablespoon water.
Step 3Prepare the stir-fry: Heat a wok or a large skillet over high. When smoking hot, add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Add the tofu, season generously with salt and pepper, and stir-fry for 3 to 4 minutes until the tofu is partly golden. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Wipe the wok or skillet clean, and keep off the heat until the cucumbers are ready.
Step 4Drain the cucumbers and rinse under cold running water. Drain well, then pat dry with a clean kitchen towel.
Step 5Heat the wok or skillet back over high heat. When hot, add the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add the garlic and allow to sizzle for just 10 seconds, then toss in the cucumbers, stir-frying for 2 minutes. Return the tofu to the wok and toss well.
Step 6Add the sauce and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the cucumbers look glossy. Taste and season well with salt and white pepper. Top with scallions and sesame seeds, and serve with rice, if using.