Three Ways with Cucumber
Did you know that the humble cucumber is, in fact, a fruit and not a vegetable? This botanical classification is owed to the pretty flowers that accompany cucumbers when they grow. Indeed, if you buy them in season, you can often see a papery husk at the tip. While supermarket cucumbers are refreshing, they are often rather flavourless, with a bitter note from whatever has been used chemically to cultivate them. When in season, and grown organically, they have a wonderful taste – fresh, sweet and almost floral. Here, we explore three quick ways to enjoy it, with notes from our nutritionist.
Nutritional Notes from our expert, Sue Camp
Cucumbers are about 95% water so they help to promote hydration by contributing to your daily fluid needs. They are really low in calories and are not going to contribute to any weight gain! J
They are full of nutrients including vitamins C and K as well as magnesium, potassium and manganese. Additionally they contain phytonutrients like flavonoids and tannin, which are helpful antioxidants to help repair cellular damage.
Another plant chemical contained in cucumbers is fisetin which may support blood sugar regulation, hence the cucumber has been referred to as an ‘anti-diabetic food’.
And those cucumber masks are recommended: they have a soothing effect against skin irritation.
They are certainly versatile and can be eaten raw, cooked or pickled. Enjoy!
Smack cucumber briskly with a rolling pin – it ought to crush it somewhat, but not entirely obliterate it. This helps to create porous edges for the marinade to seep it. Cut length ways into 4 strips before cutting diagonally again into smaller pieces. Sprinkle with salt over a colander and bowl and leave aside. Meanwhile, mix 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar with a chopped garlic clove, 2 tsps of chilli oil, 1/2 tsp of brown sugar, and a tsp of light soy sauce. Rinse and drain cucumber before mixing with the marinade. Serve and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Cucumber and Honey
Cut cucumber in half length ways and in half again. Drizzle with honey – we used wildflower honey from the Pyrenees that has a wonderfully floral and fragrant character but it would work just as well with any kind. Break up pieces of goats cheese with your hands and scatter on top, including a good pinch of flaky sea salt.
In Japan, there are many types of ‘Furikake’ to enjoy. The word simply means rice seasoning, but they vary in all sorts of wonderful combinations. We used Tanaka Shokuhin, which is a combination of dried radish leaf, seaweed, plums and perilla. Furikake adds a wonderful depth and savoury flavour, as well as a pleasant crunch.