There aren’t a lot of English instructions on how to cook Hakka food online. On this blog, we’ll correct that sad fact and make our way through a variety of Hakka dishes. We start this journey by using one of the staples of Hakka cuisine, the pickled cucumber (醬瓜).
In Chinese cuisine, a pickled cucumber is not the same thing as an American pickle. The cucumbers are very small and are fermented in salty soy sauce. You can buy jars of the pickled cucumber at your local Chinese or Asian grocery store (the picture shows the jar we used, it is the Taiwan not mainland variety).
The Thai version of the minced meat with pickled cucumber dish is spicy, and the Taiwanese version is sweet. While the Hakka version is savory if a bit salty, best to eat over rice, but we used lettuce wraps. Pork or beef is typical for this dish, but we preferred to use turkey. It’s delicious.
Hakka-Style Minced Meat with Pickled Cucumber (客家醬瓜打拋肉)
Add oil to a wok and set stove to medium-high heat. Add the turkey meat, salt, and pepper and keep stirring until the meat is no longer pink. (If the wok is full of water after the meat is cooked, you will need to drain it before moving to the next step.)
Add the garlic, and let it cook with the meat alone for at least one minute.
Add the tomatoes and pickled cucumber (醬瓜). Stir until fully mixed with the meat.
Add the sauce (soy sauce and rice wine). Mix to ensure the sauce coats everything evenly. Let the sauce evaporate, but not completely.
Add the green onion and basil. Let them wilt slightly and mix with all the other ingredients evenly.
- The slight yellow color of our dish is because we added a quarter teaspoon of turmeric before adding the meat. It isn't necessary or traditional.
- Modified from 醬缸的豐餘.