Our cucumbers have been prolific this year.  I love cucumbers in the summer, especially fresh from the garden when they are sweeter than any cucumber you can get in the store.  However, this year we have been getting at least 3-4 a day.  I hate to waste them, but they are a little out of control!  I usually just eat them raw, but Josh doesn’t contribute to my ‘must-eat-two-a-day’ habit, so I have been trying to find dinner recipes that use cucumber.  The recipe comes from Delicious Days.  I couldn’t find fresh red chilis or szechuan pepper anywhere so we did without.  I’m sure it adds some heat and nice additional flavor but the recipe is good if you can’t find them.

1 chicken breast
1 large cucumber
2-3 fresh red chilis
2 Tb peanut oil
1 Tb szechuan pepper

5 Tb sesame seeds
3 Tb soy sauce
3 Tb sesame oil
2 tsp sugar, to your liking

Cooking Instructions
Poach the chicken.  I usually poach chicken in chicken broth, but for this recipe we use water.  It probably doesn’t make a huge difference!  I bring a pot of water to a boil (enough water to cover the chicken), add a pinch of salt, and add the chicken breast.  Reduce heat and maintain a quiet simmer for about 20 minutes.  Chicken should be white on the outside and cooked on the inside.  If it looks done, I will take it out and cut it in half to check for pink.  If it needs more time, just throw it back in the pot.  Once done, allow to cool and then shred into bite-sized pieces.

While the chicken is cooking, cut the cucumber into three equal pieces.  Slice each length wise and remove the seeds.  Cut into thin slices.  Cut the chili into small rings, removing the chili seeds if you want to reduce the heat of the chili.   Heat the peanut oil in a wok or pan.  Add the chili and pepper (if you have them) a minute before the cucumber strips to infuse the oil.  I add some regular black pepper in lieu of the szechuan and chili.  If using szechuan pepper, don’t let it cook for more than 30 sec-1 min.  It will apparently start to smoke and can burn your eyes and lungs (not seriously, but enough to be unpleasant!).  Add the cucumber, saute for 4-5 minutes, add a pinch of salt, stir once, and remove from heat.  Set aside to cool

For the sauce, roast the sesame seeds in a pan over medium heat until they develop a slight golden color.  Grind them in a mini-cuisinart (or use a mortar).  You should get a dry paste once they are sufficiently ground.  You can set aside about a 1/3 of the seeds to add to the sauce later for a finishing touch.  Add the whole and ground sesame to the sesame oil, and soy sauce.  Add sugar to your liking (I always add a bit more).  If the sauce is too thick, simply add a little water.  The sauce is going taste very salty!  If you are concerned, dip a piece of chicken in and test is with a little piece of cucumber.  The latter two ingredients will mute the salty flavor nicely.  Arrange the cucumber on a plate, add some of the chicken on top, and sprinkle with the sesame sauce.  Best served lukewarm.