Don’t let the meagre amount of ingredients fool you into thinking that this vegan dish couldn’t be flavorful at all! It is very tasty and highly aromatic too. And, for added aroma and texture, a bit of toasted sesame seeds go a long way.
The first step is prepping the cucumbers. Peel (or don’t if the skin is thin anyway), slice, place in a bowl, add salt and toss well. Do this before cutting the mushrooms and chopping the garlic to give the cucumber sufficient time for the salt to draw out excess water from the cucumber.
Don’t worry about the amount of salt that you toss with the cucumber. You will rinse the cucumber slices before you stir fry them. Optionally, you may pass the rinsed cucumber in a salad spinner to remove water that won’t just drip off if you dump the cucumber slices in a strainer.
We use only shiitake caps for stir fries because we find the stems too fibrous. If you’re lucky enough to get really small shiitake, the stems should be more tender and you don’t need to discard them. If your mushrooms are two inches in diameter or larger, cut the caps into halves or quarters.
The garlic has to be peeled, of course, but there really is no strict rule as to how to cut the cloves. Chopped, minced or sliced, the garlic will flavor the dish beautifully.
Heat sesame oil in a wok or frying pan, stir fry the mushrooms with salt and pepper, and cook until the mushrooms are almost done.
Throw in the cucumber and garlic, stir fry for a minute, add rice wine and continue cooking over high heat until the mixture is almost dry.
And that’s it! With the cooking time no more than five minutes, fixing a meal on a busy day or night shouldn’t be a problem at all.
Cucumber and mushroom stir fry
- 2 large cucumbers
- 1 tablespoon rock salt - plus more to complete the dish
- 6 to 8 shiitake
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 generous pinch ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
- 1 tablespoon rice wine - I used mirin
- ½ teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- Optionally, peel the cucumbers. Cut off the both ends and discard.
- Halve the cucumbers and scrape off the seeds with a teaspoon.
- Cut the deseeded cucumber halves into half inch slices.
- Dump the cucumber slices into a bowl and sprinkle with a tablespoon of rock salt. Toss well. Leave to soak while you prep the mushrooms and garlic.
- Cut off the mushroom stems and discard. Cut the caps into slices or quarters. What the shape should be is entirely up to you.
- Peel the garlic, smash and chop.
- Rinse the cucumber slices well and drain.
- Heat the sesame seed oil in a wok or frying pan.
- Throw in the mushrooms and sprinkle with about a quarter teaspoon of salt and pepper. Stir fry for about two minutes.
- Add the cucumber slices and garlic. Stir fry for a minute.
- Pour in the rice wine. Continue stir frying until the there’s very little liquid left in the wok or frying pan.
- Transfer the shiitake and cucumber stir fry to a platter or individual bowls. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds before serving.