Sounds weird, right? Weird like awesome is more like it. Imagine cucumbers that are still crunchy but have their edges softened, infused by a spicy coconut sauce with a few tomatoes thrown in for good measure. Spicy Coconut Cucumbers are a new summer favorite around here.
The first bite of these cucumbers is interesting, a tiny bit sweet but way more savory, and leaves your mouth with a little heat from the spicy broth. The following bites happen in quick succession because you realize how tasty the whole combination actually is.
We ate spicy coconut cucumbers as a side dish to sandwiches (in little bowls) and they’d be a welcome addition to a plate full of summery barbecue fare or burgers. Serving them over rice would make them into a more substantial course and would temper the spicy heat a little.
Spicy Coconut Cucumbers (adapted from epicurious)
Yield: 4-6 side servings
Note: you can make these as spicy as you want. If you aren’t into spice, start with just a little and add gradually to taste.
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil (I like a neutral oil for this)
2 or 2-1/2 cups of cucumber slices (peeled, halved lengthwise, seeds removed if large, and cut 1/4″ thick)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup white onion, diced (sweet onions work well here)
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
1 teaspoon (or less) gochujang (spicy Korean red pepper paste)
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup coconut milk
1-1/2 teaspoons honey
Juice of 1/2 lime
Heat the vegetable oil in a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add the cucumber and onion and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and sauté until the edges begin to soften, about two minutes. Add the garlic and gochujang and cook, stirring to break up the red pepper paste, for another minute. Stir in the tomatoes, coconut milk, and honey and simmer until the cucumbers are somewhat tender but still crunchy, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.