I used a mandoline for the first time when I was in culinary school. The thing scared the bejeezus out of me. Something about gliding clunky foods across a slippery surface and onto a razor-sharp blade just didn’t register as “safe” in my mind. But a few homemade coleslaws, potato chips and cucumber salads later, and I had traded fear for fascination. How could such a tiny, non-electronic gadget produce such perfect slices and slivers and juliennes and … noodles?
Turn off the stove and step away from the carbs because there’s a new noodle on the block and he is sweet, spicy, sour and seriously good for the ol’ bikini bod. All it takes to transform summer’s freshest cukes into noodles is either a mandoline or a spiralizer. But if neither of those gadgets are in your kitchen (or your foreseeable future), consider this recipe for Chilled Sweet and Sour Cucumber Noodles the ultimate test of your knife skills … and endurance.
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2 medium cucumbers, peeled
1/2 cup diced red onion
3/4 cup rice vinegar
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons white sesame seeds
Equipment: a mandoline or spiralizer
Attach the julienne blade to the mandoline and adjust it to the 1/8-inch-thick setting. Applying medium pressure, carefully run one of the cucumbers down the blade to form noodles, slicing until you reach the core. Rotate the cucumber a quarter turn and continue slicing and rotating until you've cut the entire cucumber. Repeat the slicing process with the second cucumber then transfer the cucumber noodles to a medium bowl.
Add the red onion, rice vinegar, 1/4 cup water, sugar and crushed red pepper flakes (optional) to the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the cucumber noodles for a minimum of 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until chilled.
While the noodles are chilling, toast the sesame seeds in a small saucepan over low heat until golden brown.
When ready to serve, use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer the noodles to serving plates and top with the toasted sesame seeds.
If you're using a spiralizer instead of a mandoline, simply twist the cucumber into the spiralizer to form noodles.
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