How to Cook Cucumbers

Have you ever heard of the saying “cool as a cucumber”? It might sound silly, but it is a phrase that's grounded in reality. Cucumbers are 96% water after all. This is why they are super low in calories. Furthermore, if eaten by themselves or as part of a dish like in salads or sandwiches, they impart a very pleasing and refreshing crunch that most people like.

Cucumbers often need little to no preparation at all. Just wash it, slice it into your preferred shape or size, and that's about it. No cooking necessary. They can be eaten and enjoyed raw. For a lot of us cucumber-enjoyers, this is what makes cucumbers so appealing - they can be consumed with no fuss at all.

However, can you cook cucumbers? Despite what most people would say, you can in fact enjoy cooked cucumbers. Though its practice is a rarity in the Western world, many Asian cuisines (most prominently Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, regional Indian) cook cucumbers in some of their dishes. If you want to start somewhere easy, then you can try incorporating them into stir-fries.

Cooked Cucumbers - What Do They Taste Like?

Of course, the biggest question here is what exactly do cooked cucumbers taste like? Well, they taste like... cucumbers. To be fair, raw cucumbers by themselves aren't that big on flavor. They taste mildly sweet. Their cooked counterparts taste almost the same.

The biggest difference here would be the texture. Depending on how you cook them, cucumbers can lose some of their trademark crunchiness when they're cooked. However, sautéed or stir-fried cucumbers are still pretty tender and still retain most of their bite even when they're fully cooked.

Remove Seeds First

Before cooking your cucumbers, it's best to remove their seeds first (that is, if you're not using a seedless variety of course). You may be wondering why this is. As mentioned, consist primarily of water. Removing the seeds will drastically cut down the amount of water released during the cooking process. This would also lessen the risk of your dish becoming soggy and watery.

To remove a cucumber's seeds, first slice it lengthwise into two pieces. Then with a small spoon, scoop out the seeds carefully.

To Salt or Not to Salt

Most chefs opt to salt their cucumbers first before cooking. The salt helps draw out excess moisture, thus reducing the risk that your dish will turn watery when it finishes cooking. To salt your cucumbers, slice them into your desired shapes then transfer them to a bowl. Toss everything with salt (as a rule of thumb, use a quarter teaspoon of salt for every pound of cucumber), and allow to sit for at least 25 to 35 minutes. Drain the water out, and then wash the slices again under cold, running water if you want to remove the salt. Pat the cucumber slices dry with a paper towel.

Stir-Fried Cucumbers (Oi Bokkeum)

Here is a great stir fried cucumber recipe to try out. Oi Bokkeum is a great side dish for many Korean dishes, but it can be eaten on its own too. All you need is some cucumbers, salt, oil, garlic, scallion, sesame oil, and some sesame seeds.

Cut the cucumbers lengthwise, and then diagonally. If you have a thinner cucumber, simply cut it into small thin rounds.

Lightly salt the cucumbers. Make sure that the salt coats the cucumber slices evenly. Leave everything sit out for at least ten to twenty minutes.

From here, squeeze out the water from the cucumber slices. Use paper towels or a colander if necessary. Don't worry about bruising the cucumbers for this, it's important to squeeze out as much of the water as possible. The cucumber slices will return to their original shape once they are stir-fried.

Stir-fry the cucumber slices over high heat. Simply heat a tablespoon of oil (any neutral oil will work for this recipe) in a pan, and then quickly stir in the garlic. Add the cucumbers and stir fry for around a minute or two. Make sure not to overcook!

Take everything out of the pan and into a bowl. Toss the cucumber slices with some scallions, sesame oils, and a little bit of sesame seeds for garnish.