Cucumber Recipe to overcome cucumber-fobia
Please help me overcome my hatred of cucumbers!
I just HATE cucumbers' taste and smell. I am at the point where I even don't eat lettuce in a salad once it's touched cucumber. Other things I won't be able to eat because of this - Raita or any yogurt sause with minced cucumber, relish, thousand island dressing. dill pickles, potato salad... I have to ask for non-cucumber in such items as California roll or greek salad (assuming that they are not already tossed with cucumbers).
Is there a way to cook or prepare cucumber, so that I can slowly but surely start taking a small dose of this and eventually overcome with my hatred towards cucumber?? Your help is greatly appreciated!!
I respect your desire to overcome your cuke phobia. I actually LOVE cucumbers b/c I find them so refreshing and snackable, esp. in the summer. In the past few yrs., I have grown accustomed to solely buying English or hothouse cucumbers. This variety has a thin exterior, which does not need to be peeled like the other variety. It also is considered seedless, although there are tiny edible seeds here and there. I always scrape out the soft core if I'm using it in a recipe. You can find them at major markets (like Safeway) and Trader Joe's for about $1.50-2 each.
As far as recipes, the simplest way I enjoy them is to cut them into long wedges, add kosher salt, and munch away. I also make quick homemade pickles by marinading them in vinegar, salt, red pepper flakes, a little sugar. Also like them sliced into salads with either an Asian-flavored dressing (fish sauce, soy, dash of sesame oil, canola oil, rice vinegar) or Greek-flavored dressing (red wine vinegar, EVOO, lemon, oregano). Hope this helps...
Your probably best taking the pickle route.
Try the sweet pickles first, bread and butter, etc.
Then go to the garlic dills and those that are more "pickled."
Slowly go to half sours then try slices of fresh cucumber with vinegar and sugar.
I also had some great sliced cucumbers with garlic oil and salt which tasted more like garlic than anything else at Grand Sichuan in NYC.
Good luck. I love cucumbers especially that garlic oil preparation...
re: Jonathan Saw
I absolutely love the Cucumbers with fresh garlic at Grand Sichuan. Very refreshing especially after eating all the other spicy dishes. I found a recipe online (linked below) that seems to be for the same dish, but I have yet to try it.
Start with a good cucumber. I mean a real one, grown by real farmer on a real field in real dirt - i.e. the cucumber that has been touched by a human hand. These can usually be procured on a farmer's market anytime between June and August virtually anywhere in the US. Sold as "pickling" cucumbers. Small, slightly curvy, slightly prickly.
As a weak substitute, you might try to buy them in [Whole Foods] or some ethnic grocery store, but that is like learning to like bread having access to stale bread only. Freshness is important.
Now pick a nice one - about twice the size of an old-fashioned lipstick case (wider and longer).
Wash it. Now bite into it. Just like that. Taste. Sprinkle a bit of salt. Taste again. Taste some swiss cheese or italian salami to provide a contrast (the opposite of cleansing the palate). Now taste again.
You should be a convert by now.
Then try the salads, cucumber sandwiches, etc. - you might soon be able to "see" that ideal cucumber in its pale industrial "english" cucumber version. Or even - horror- learn how to trick the most mediocre of the supermarket thick-skin-tough-seeds-varities into resembling the real thing.
But you have to wait until the summer to try it.
Do not bother until then.
P.S. Learning to like cucumbers via pickles is like learning to like oranges via marmelade. Not quite the same thing.
Your determination to overcome an obstacle is impressive. I bet you are that way in other areas of your life too.
Here is a simple homemade sugar/vinegar dressing, easy and fat free. Wash the cuke and peel. Slice lengthwise and scoop out seeds and soft stuff with a spoon (too watery otherwise). Slice into real thin crescent shapes, and add an amount of thin sliced sweet onion if you prefer, however much you prefer.
Make a dressing of two parts white vinegar to one part white sugar, and salt and papper to taste. Check to see if to your liking and adjust ingredients accordingly. Some people add vegetable oil, but then not fat free.
Can now add anything else you like, dill, mint, celery seed, anything. Some like with sour cream and I do too, but then not fat free.
Let it sit at least a couple hours, best overnight or a couple days. Just gets better.
Or, try this. Buy any jar of pickles you like. Eat the pickles, save the juice. Fill the jar with those sliced cukes. Let sit for a day or two days is better. Turn it over once in a while. Enjoy.
Totally off a different track, but a common Chinese home dish is stir-fried sliced chicken or pork with scrambled eggs, cucumber, and woodear mushrooms. The cucumber is generally of the size between a persian cuke and an English hothouse, sliced to 1/8 inch slices. If memory serves me right, the meat is first stir fried with garlic, szechuan peppercorn and oil, then the rehydraged woodear mushroom and cuke are added, then scrambled eggs and salt and pepper to taste (maybe some soysauce and sesame oil too).
Basically, try cooking cukes by stir frying if the raw version just doesn't jive with you. It will come out with a slightly softer but still crispy texture, and the flavor become savory and flagrant.
Can you describe what it is about the taste and smell that you don't like? What would you compare it to? The slightly floral taste? Is it the texture that really turns you off? The seeds? The softer part around the seeds?
I ask because I feel that way about lima beans. No one is going to convince me to like lima beans. Yes, I've had really good fresh ones. I've picked them while the water is already on to boil. Hate them. I know it's weird that I like all other legumes.
Is it possible that it's a little bit of fear of the long-despised that keeps you from giving them a good re-tasting? That is certainly my experience with a lot of vegetables that I will now eat. In that case, it was having those vegetables in the context of ethnic food (that I wasn't exposed to as a kid when I formed these preferences) that brought me around.
(I actually love cucumbers, but don't care for most pickles, partly because of texture, partly because I don't like the smell of the pickle juice. I would have recommended raita as a good place to start with cucumbers. Ah well.)
--susan makes a good point. Some people don't like cukes because of the "cuke burps" that come after eating them. If that's the reason you don't like them, always make sure you peel them completely before eating them to "remove the burps." It also serves to remove some of the stronger cuke flavor so that may be a better re-introduction to cukes if you just plain don't like the taste.
people have been talking about fresh grown cukes. For a good cucumber what you really want are kirby cucumbers, which are the much smaller variety (usually about 5 inches long, about 1.5 in. in diameter), not-waxy, and look bumpy. They are not as pretty as the massive standard supermarket variety and much lighter green, but they actually have flavor and don't leave you feeling like you ate a tube of chapstick.
That said, it seems like you just don't like cucumbers. I'm guessing some bad childhood experience. I was like that with brocolli (which my parents used to force me to eat) into my 20s, but now I actually can enjoy it. Occasionally test yourself and your tastebuds with an open mind. Don't do it in front of anyone else. Just every few months buy a cucumber, chop it up at home and take a small bite. At some point you may like them. Or not. Just keep trying.
I like to make a green "gaspacho" by pureeing peeled and seeded cukes, avacado, garlic and stock. Top with the usual gaspacho condiments; croutons, hard-boiled eggs, diced toamtoes, onion, etc. This might be a good place for you to start as it takes the cuke's texture out of the equation.
According to Julie Powell of the Julie/Julia project, baked cucumbers with cream (a Julia Child recipe), is fantastic. I haven't tried it, but it might be a good start for you. Here's a link to the excerpt (note that the other recipe she prepared that day was sweetbreads, so read on for the cucumber part):
No advice, but glad to read I'm not a freak. I can't stand cucumbers either -- never have been able to. Other things I used to hate (onions when I was a child, mustard, mushrooms, wasabi, etc.) I now eat with gusto. I really don't have picky tastes, and I'll try things over and over again, but I just can't get myself to like cucumbers. The rest of the cucumber-loving world doesn't understand it -- thinks they're inoffensive. But they're NOT.
However, I will eat things that cucumbers have touched -- I push all the cucumbers out of my sushi rolls (if I buy them premade and eat them at home -- I order them without in restaurants). I eat around them in Greek salad (or make a fabulous alternative version with watermelon).