Total Calories: 128
1. Prepare either of the Stuffed Cucumber Filling mixtures.
2. Leave cucumbers unpeeled or peel them lengthwise in alternating strips. (The latter are not only decorative, but help the cucumbers hold their shape after cooking.) Cut crosswise in 2-inch sections.
3. Scoop out seeds and stuff cucumbers with filling mixture as above, but do not dredge with flour.
4. Blend cornstarch and cold water to a paste and brush over stuffed cucumber sections to coat. Reserve remaining paste.
5. Heat oil to smoking. Add cucumber sections a few at a time then reduce heat and deep-fry until pale golden. Drain on paper toweling.
6. Bring remaining water to a boil. Gently lower in cucumbers then simmer, covered, 10 minutes over very low heat.
7. Remove cucumbers to a serving platter, leaving liquids in pan. Add reserved cornstarch paste and tomato sauce, and stir in to thicken. Pour sauce over cucumbers and serve.
* For the tomato sauce, substitute soy sauce.
* In step 6, top each stuffed cucumber section with either a mushroom cap or a 1-inch square of smoked ham.
Omit steps 4 and 5. Place cucumber sections, stuffing-side up, in a pan with 1 cup water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil then simmer, covered, until done (30 to 40 minutes). Pick up step 7.
Omit steps 4, 5 and 7. Arrange cucumber sections, stuffing-side up, on a heatproof platter. Steam on a rack 20 minutes (see HOW-TO, _Steaming). Season with salt and serve.
The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook. ©1994 by Gloria Bley Miller.
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