There are a number of varieties of cucumbers that are best suited for different culinary purposes according to their shapes, shades, and sizes. The garden cucumber or market cucumber variety are available throughout the year in most markets and can be used in most cucumber appetizers. Select the ones that are firm, dark green, and rounded at the tips. They are usually waxed to hold in moisture and improve shelf-life, and so they should either be peeled or scrubbed well before preparing. Chefs often do peel these cucumbers since their peels tend to be thick and bitter. For the presentation purposes of this cucumber appetizer recipe, I have chosen not to discard the peel of the cucumbers but I do remove the seeds. You can substitute with English cucumbers, but they are less flavorful and the skin is thinner which may make the carving difficult.
6 garden cucumbers
1 tbsp shredded red chilies or red sweet peppers
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp finely diced ginger
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp chicken powder
1 tbsp sesame oil
Cut the ends off the cucumbers, and then cut into 1 to 1 1/2 –inch logs. Start to peel the skin from each cucumber log, making sure the skin stays intact. Continue to peel the cucumber, spiraling inwards into the center until you reach the inner seedy portion.
You should end up with one long piece of cucumber about a half centimeter thick. Note: this can be a challenging task with the knife, and may require some practicing. To shorten the time required for this presentation, the cucumbers can simply be peeled and coarsely chopped.
Roll up the peel into a spiral ball and secure with a toothpick. Combine all the seasonings into a mixing bowl except the red chilies. Marinate the cucumber peel spirals in the seasonings for 15 minutes, remove the toothpicks and then transfer them carefully to a serving plate making sure they retain their shape.
Place some shredded red chilies on top for garnish.
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