This is an extraordinary way of cooking cucumber, revealing an unexpected side to the vegetable. Although cooked in a wok, the cucumber pieces are colored by laying them more-or-less flat against the surface of the wok, a method known in Chinese as jian (pan-fry) rather than chao (stir-fry). From the Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook.
- Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and then, with the knife at an angle, cut each half into slanted, almost semicircular slices about 1/4 inch thick.
- Heat the wok over a high flame until smoke rises, then add the oil and swirl around; add the cucumber and fry for a few minutes until the slices are tinged a little golden. Spread the slices out so they cover as much as possible of the bottom of the wok, turning from time to time.
- Add the chili and garlic to the wok and stir-fry until fragrant, adding the soy sauce as you go; splash the vinegar around the side of the wok and mix well. Add the herbs and stir a few times; then, off the heat, stir in the sesame oil and serve.