Spicy Beef and Cucumbers with Black Vinegar


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Spicy Beef and Cucumbers with Black Vinegar


  • 1 medium cucumber (about 12 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 red chilies, finely chopped
  • 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons black vinegar (Chinkiang)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Steamed rice, cooked ramen, or chopped romaine (for serving)
  • 1 1/2 cups mixed tender herbs (such as mint, basil, and/or cilantro)
  • Lime wedges (for serving)


  1. Cut cucumbers crosswise into 4 inch-thick pieces. Using a rolling pin, meat mallet, of the flat side of a chef's knife, lightly crush cucumbers, then slice crosswise into 1/2 inch-thick slices; set aside.

  2. Heat oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over high. Add beef and a pinch of salt; break up meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon then spread out in pan to create a single layer. Cook, undisturbed, until bottom side is browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Break up meat with a spatula and turn over pieces. Cook until other side is browned and crisp and meat is cooked through, 5–7 minutes.

  3. Push meat to one side of pan and add garlic and chiles. Cook, stirring often, until fragrant and softened, about 2 minutes. Mix garlic and chile into meat. Add shallot and reserved cucumbers and cook, tossing occasionally and scraping up any browned bits, until cucumbers are softened and translucent, about 4 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and stir in vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar. Set skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring, until sauce is reduced slightly, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

  4. Spoon beef and cucumbers over rice and top with herbs. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing over.


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