Szechuan Steamed Stuffed Cucumbers, a Light and Satisfying Meal

Szechuan Steamed Stuffed Cucumbers, a Light and Satisfying Meal

Steaming cucumbers may seem unusual.  However, this dish has a surprisingly tasty flavor, as the mild bitterness of the cucumbers contrasts beautifully with the rich pork filling.  Better yet, these cucumbers are quick and easy to prepare on busy weeknights.

As the weather warms up, dreams of Cape Town fill my mind.  Naturally, this reminds me that I’ve packed on a couple of unwanted kilos this winter.  So, I’m on the lookout for lighter recipes which will allow me to enjoy dinner while losing a little weight.

Personally, when I think of lightening up my menu, I think of Chinese food.  I know this sounds like a cliché and, of course, the Chinese also have their share of rich and fattening dishes.

However, my Chinese aunt always looked beautiful and I vividly recall how she managed.  My aunt inevitably began preparing lots more vegetables with less meat as spring rolled around.  She would also emphasize more steamed dishes, as they are naturally much lighter.

So, when I unearthed this unusual recipe for steamed cucumbers, I thought I ought to give it a go.  The result?  Nothing short of delicious!!  Even my husband, who can be a picky eater, enjoyed this dish.

Szechuan Cooking

This recipe was adapted from Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook: Szechwan Home Cooking, a classic which was originally published in 1976. At that time, it was one of the earliest Chinese cookbooks in English.  The fact that Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook: Szechwan Home Cooking has remained the gold standard for any cook wishing to master Szechuan cuisine is no accident.

Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook: Szechwan Home Cooking opens with an introduction to Chinese cuisine and explains food appreciation in the Chinese context.  Elements such as taste, texture, banqueting, and nutrition are all covered in helpful detail.

However, the most entertaining part of Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook: Szechwan Home Cooking, is undoubtedly the personal anecdotes.  Mrs. Chiang’s reminiscences about her childhood in rural Szechuan are shared along with her recipes, which helps connect them to a specific time and place.

This single tome covers a broad range of Szechuan foods, from omelets to pickles.  It also assigns each dish to a flavor category and meal type, which is very helpful.  Stuffed Cucumbers, for instance, are “mild and gingery” and “almost in advance”.  So, it is easy to identify the dishes that are appropriate for your family and the occasion.

Szechuan cuisine is so broad that it would be impossible for one book to cover absolutely everything. However, Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook: Szechwan Home Cooking is certainly an excellent book to introduce you to the rich and vibrant flavors of Szechuan and help you recreate them at home.

Szechuan Steamed Stuffed Cucumbers | cookglobaleatlocal.comAbout this Recipe

Szechuan Steamed Stuffed Cucumbers |
It is very easy to steam just about anything on a standard dinner plate. Simply place 4 chopsticks in your wok, as shown above, and top with the plate.


This is a steamed dish.  If you’re accustomed to using small bamboo steamer baskets set over a wok, you may be wondering how cucumbers will ever fit into them.

Well, my Aunt often steamed on a simple dinner plate, which fits neatly into a standard wok.  It is very easy to do if you have a few inexpensive bamboo chopsticks on hand.  You can simply place them in the wok, in a crosshatch formation, as shown at left.  The hot water can be poured into the bottom and a dinner plate can be placed on top of them with the cucumbers.

The only word of caution I have for you is to be very careful of the steam.  Steam burns can be nasty.  So, do use oven mitts when you place or remove the dinner plate.


Szechuan Steamed Stuffed Cucumbers, a Light and Satisfying Meal

Szechuan Steamed Stuffed Cucumbers |
Jeanette Marie
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Prep Time:  15 minutes - Cook Time:  30 minutes Servings:  4

Stuffed cucumbers are light, delicious, and satisfying weekday dinner option. They are so easy to prepare and very healthy!

  • 4 mediterranean cucumbers
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground, roasted Szechwan peppercorns
  • 1.5 cm (1/2 in) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
  • 3 scallions, cleaned, trimmed, and finely minced
  • 225 g (1/2 lb) pork mince
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
    For serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

  1. Peel the cucumbers and cut them in half lengthwise. Scoop out all the seeds and membrane from each shell.
  2. Put the cucumbers in a dish and sprinkle them with salt. Ensure that the salt is thoroughly and evenly distributed over the cucumbers. Set aside for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a dry skillet over a medium flame. Roast the Szechuan peppercorns, shaking the pan gently, until lightly toasted and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
  4. When cool, grind the peppercorns in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.
  5. Put the ground pork in a bowl. Add the chopped ginger and the scallions to the pork, along with the soy sauce, sesame oil, Szechwan peppercorns, egg, salt, and cornstarch. Mix well to combine.
  6. Drain the cucumbers. Pat dry with paper towels.
  7. Then, stuff them with the pork mixture and arrange them on a plate.
  8. Set your wok up for steaming. Bring the water inside to the boil.
  9. Once the water is boiling, place the plate of cucumbers in your steamer and cover with a lid.
  10. Steam over high heat for 20 minutes. Then, reduce heat to low (add water if needed) and steam for an additional 10 minutes.
  11. Remove the cucumbers from the steamer. Reserve any juices left on the plate after steaming.
  12. Combine the reserved juices with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil. Stir thoroughly to combine and create a light sauce.
  13. Cut the cucumbers into about 5 slices each. Drizzle them with sauce before serving.

If you wish, you may serve the cucumber halves whole, as I have. However, for an authentic, multi-course Chinese meal, cutting them into slices as recommended in the recipe would be advisable.

Nutrition Facts

Szechuan Steamed Stuffed Cucumbers, a Light and Satisfying Meal

Serves 1 cucumber

Amount Per Serving
Calories 205.91 kcal
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 10.22 g 15.7%
Saturated Fat 3.16 g 15.8%
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 75.43 mg 25.1%
Sodium 916.41 mg 38.2%
Total Carbohydrate 15.06 g 5%
Dietary Fiber 2.02 g 8.1%
Sugars 5.45 g
Protein 15.17 g
Vitamin A Vitamin C
Calcium Iron

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

2 thoughts on “Szechuan Steamed Stuffed Cucumbers, a Light and Satisfying Meal”

    • Thanks Gala. I also found the recipe unusual at first. But, steaming really brings out the natural sweetness in cucumber and makes a divine complement to the meaty filling. I hope your family enjoys it!

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