messed up a perfectly good recipe

Joined Feb 3, 2010
A few years ago a friend worked up a recipe for a Thai Beef Cucumber Cup. It tasted amazing but was a chore to eat. Since then I have recreated the recipe in several incarnations but now I'm trying to take it back to its roots.

The problem seems to be the cuke cup; its too big to eat with any grace at a social gathering. Today I tried to 'stick' the beef to a 1/4" slice of cuke by reducing the marinade and then thickening it with some cornstarch. Firstly, (and I should have seen this coming) the marinade became rediculous overpowering in flavour, so I thinned it with some consomme. Secondly, the starch thickening made it more slippery instead of sticky so the topping slid off as soon as you picked up the cuke. I tried anchoring the lot on the cuke with a tiny spear of green onion, and caged it with some very finely sliced red pepper... sadly the beef-marinade became quite gloopy. Still tasted great, but looked like, um, goo.

oh, also, I tried marinading the beef after I had sliced thin and whacked with a rolling pin. I think I may have 'cooked' the beef with the lemon and palm sugar in the mix.

Should I just pho the beef last minute instead of marinating? Can you think of a better way to assemble a single bite size of this yummy combination?:confused:


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
Slice the cucumber thinly on the bias. put a thin slice of cooked seasoned beef on a cucumber slice. Roll it up. Should make a bite-able or one-bite size portion.
Joined Feb 26, 2007
Charron - have you tried doing say a 1/2" slice of Lebanese cuke, hollowing it out but leave a small solid base - so not hollow all the way through, then filling with your beef? Might be worth a try.
Joined Feb 4, 2010
How about cutting the beef into small bite-sized pieces and skewer them with tiny cucumber (or other veggie) pieces? These are easy to eat and not messy.
Joined Oct 9, 2008
There's this trick Japanese chefs like, that I think they got from the Chinese, where you take a cucumber or carrot and shave it around into a cup. If you use a thinnish cuke, like a hothouse "English" cuke, it comes out about bite-sized. The trick is basically the same as the one French chefs use to turn carrots into little flowers to skewer on spikes for decoration. If that doesn't explain, I can dig up a proper explanation. But the point is, you could go right back to the cucumber cup and have it be bite-sized, just restructuring with your knife.
Joined Feb 13, 2008
I get what you're trying to say: Cups made in the normal manner are two or three bites -- and not bite size. Chris is on the right track, in terms of choosing a more suitable cucumber; but I suspect his choice of English "hothouse" might still be too big. A thinner cuke, like a Persian, might be just right. Or, you can use a ring cutter to cut down an English hothouse. For the little it's worth, I hollow out the cups with a small spoon or melon baller.

In any case, if you cut the cups no thicker than the width of a thumb -- which is about the same width as your chef's knife handle -- it will be bite size, even for dainty mouths. Speaking of which, the idea with bite-size cocktail food is to get it small enough so a woman can eat it without smearing her lipstick. Anything smaller than that is showing off.

Joined Feb 3, 2010
those are some great suggestions, thanks!

I'm not sure about the availability of the Persian or Lebanese cukes until the farmer's markets open up again but I'll certainly look for them to put in my garden. The English cukes have been ok so far, but they are still a bit too seedy to be cut down with my ring cutter. My mini mellon baller is a veteran cuke cupper, and I can't see it losing its job anytime soon.

I really like the idea of the roll ups. I suppose I worry about them drying up if I have to make them ahead, but I do love to experiment and test so I will find out :) I'll try to avoid the fiddly urge to tie each one up with a sliver of green onion...

I had toyed with the idea of making a little chopped salad of sorts and serving it in a Chinese spoon but I hesitate for three reasons; I have no idea how trendy or current the idea of serving Chinese spoons is, I'd feel a little akward serving Thai inspired food in Chinese utensil, and at least one client has expressed concern about finding things that have been 'stashed' in thier home by thier guests, after the event.

Chris, I'm gonna google the poop out of your suggestion. I would love to be able to carve my way to something impressive. I've seen it done on other veg but never had an excuse to learn it until now. Luckily I have plenty of family and friends willing to eat my practice practice practice... :eek:

Thanks again for all the help :peace:
Joined Feb 26, 2007
Would you be willing to substitute cupped discs of cooked carrot or potato? Or into a small stick of celery. Or a little "boat of a blanched mild chilli/ hollowed out cherry/grape/baby roma tomatoes? Yes, it will change the recipe, but it sounds as if it can be played with a bit.

Here's a labour intensive one - make little cubed topless boxes of raw potatoes and deep fry, drain well and fill. Don't think any sane person would be bothered, but its a thought. :D
Joined Feb 3, 2010
Actually, I have made little potato baskets in the past but by waffle slicing them, nuking them for a bit between wet paper towel, then sandwiching them between a couple of mini ladles before giving them the plunge into the fryer. They look nice an' frilly and will hold just about anything (so long as it isn't too juicy... fresh bruchetta style salad killed em pretty quick :blush:)

I'll definitely play with other veggie combos for other bites, but this recipe will stick with the cuke. I looked at using a 'rose garnish' for the vehicle but I can't figure a way to keep it from falling apart when someone tries to eat it. I've been practicing a Thai style flower cut that they usually use for carrots. With a bit more practice I think I'll have a usable format :)
Joined Jan 27, 2010
after making it in your big cuke cup, can you still divide it into smaller parts? try that it just might work also.
Joined Feb 26, 2007
fresh bruchetta style salad killed em pretty quick yeah it would...good idea that I am definitely borrowing :D

Roses - you said you were going to google the techniques for garnishes. A simple one is to have a really sharp paring knife, then peel a tomato as your granny would peel a granny smith (pun intended) apple. Then roll it up, push the centre up a little and there's your rose. I thought at first of radishes, but they are a bit large for this.

Another thing I thought of - do you salt, then drain, then rinse and dry your cuke cups to get rid of some excess water? This could help them keep longer without going mushy.

Any reason you wouldn't use a cocktail stick to anchor a roll of beef onto the cuke base? An easy out I know, but also practical.

Let us know how they turn out and what eventuates :)
Joined Feb 3, 2010
I came, I googled, I drooled... There are some very cool garnishes to be made from veg, and a remarkable amount that can be made into roses. The beet rose won my ribbon for most vibrant colour, but the turnip rose won for overall pretty.

The problem with using a cuke rose garnish in place of the cup is getting it to not unravel when the unsuspecting party-goer picks it up with thier fingers. I can see an escaping-roll-of-toilette-paper style disaster, or a sudden loss of the yummy beef filling through a not-quite-secure base if I fail to roll it tightly enough.

The style I've almost settled on I saw first here: Make A Carrot Butterfly and Carrot Flowers The Thai Way! The trick is leaving enough base to make it sturdy, even after you've cut it flat enough to stand on its own.

I would like to use a cocktail stick to anchor, but this one particular client is adamant about eliminating 'stuff' that they might find in thier couch cushions or plant pots later. I'm starting to wonder if they are going to allow napkins...

I did not realize I could semi-brine the cuke to reduce volume. I've been using them as fresh as possible to retain the crisp. That wont dry them out too much?

.. off I go to experiment some more... :bounce:
Joined Feb 26, 2007
Have a go at salting your cukes and see if you like them that way or not.

Thos carrots are some pretty amazing work. I bet your client wouldn't like to see the toilet paper effect either :lol:

Your client sounds like a fuss budget, but, hey, they are paying the bills! :)
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