Spilling blood in the name of soup and this column

by DGO Web Administrator

Well, I finally did it: I spilled blood in the name of this cooking column – my blood, to be exact. I’d like to think I wouldn’t stick someone with a knife over some pork-stuffed cucumber soup.

Not to worry though, ’twas but a flesh wound – a pinprick when I accidentally sliced my finger while stabbing a cucumber – but more on that later.

This week, I decided to go for some pork-stuffed cucumber soup. Can’t say I would have ever considered making cucumber soup or stuffing vegetables with ground, seasoned pork on my own, but I’m open to new things – even if it means buckling down to problem solve how the hell to hollow out a cucumber.

First, the easy part. I mixed together ground pork with some soy sauce, garlic, and pepper in a bowl.

It went downhill from there.

After mixing, I was expected to take my cucumbers and, after washing, peeling, and halving them, hollow them out. The recipe suggested I use a pineapple corer to dig out the insides. Once I figured out how to even use a pineapple corer, I discovered that I had indeed wasted $10, as the corer was not going to work for my specific cucumber needs.

Improvising, I shoved the tip of the pineapple corer into the tops of each cucumber, forming at least the beginning of the hollowing out process. Next, I took a small knife and began stabbing around the small hole I created (yes, I know I’m an idiot). This, as I’m sure you can imagine, did not go super well for me. During this quite messy process, I ended up slicing through the sides of most of them and eventually, my knife slid through at just the right angle, cutting my ring finger. Howling obscenities, I rushed to the bathroom to inspect my battle wounds. Upon discovering it was pretty minor, I slapped a band-aid on it and returned to my work, albeit with slightly more caution.

Before long, a wet pile of cucumber guts was splayed across my counter and dripping onto my floor. I had the pleasure of occasionally stepping on it with my bare feet. It’s not a real meal unless you get most of it on the floor, I guess.

Once I’d finished gutting my veggies, I scooped my pork mixture and finagled it down the hatch of my worse-for-wear cucumbers. Once I’d mostly packed it all in, I dropped the halves into a vat of boiling water with chicken bouillon cubes for half an hour, hoping that would be enough to cook the pork all the way through.

Once the cauldron finished boiling, the recipe called for honshimeji mushrooms to be sprinkled into the mixture, but since – even as an adult – I cannot stomach the thought of mushrooms, I took a hard pass. In hindsight, I wish I had planned to replace it with something else. Alas.

Since the directions said to boil the cucumbers for 15 minutes longer after adding in the mushrooms, I left the pot to boil for a bit longer. I was also nervous about the idea of taking a big bite out of one of the cucumbers and getting a mouthful of raw pork. When the timer went off, I sprinkled some sliced scallions into the broth as the finishing touch.

Once I was certain I wasn’t in danger of getting salmonella, I spooned out a bowl for myself, not entirely sure what to expect from this brew. I was confident I would enjoy the pork, but the cucumber was looking a little soggy, and I wasn’t sure what to expect from a cooked cucumber.

In the end, I felt so-so about this dinner. It was rather bland, and I felt something was missing, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Perhaps I really did completely bungle my cucumber soup by skipping over the ’shrooms part, but what I felt it really needed was some sort of spice to give it a little more kick. Hovering slightly above the mediocre bar when it comes to cooking is my safe space, though, so I think I’ll just be grateful that it was at least edible this time around.

Amanda Push is a writer who wishes she lived with a cat and just wants to learn how to not eat like a college student anymore. Contact her at [email protected].

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