Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lemongrass and Chili Beef in Cucumber Cups

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Refreshing and delicious.


My brother and his girlfriend are on the caveman/paleo diet.  And at their house for dinner last Sunday night, so were we.  And, wow, was it ever an amazing dinner.  I didn't know that cavemen ate cayenne pepper infused chocolate cake (so good - I will post the recipe once I get it) or sweet potato soufflĂ© with roast beef, or dairy-free spinach and artichoke dip made with cashew cream instead of milk.

As an appetizer I guess they maybe also would be known to hollow out some bite-sized cups made out of cucumber, put a lemongrass and chili beef mixture inside, and garnish with a mint leaf.  I could totally see the cavemen and cavewomen (is cavepeople the PC term?) doing that.  I was going to make a joke about dinosaurs here too, but I couldn't think of one.

I would say that my brother and his girlfriend are more on the 'in the spirit of paleo' diet rather than the actual paleo diet itself, because they were ok with the refined sugar in this recipe, and because they were drinking beer and wine at the dinner.  My poor food-loving mother...a gluten-free daughter, an 'in the spirit of paleo' son, and a son-in-law who hates onions and mushrooms and warm fruit.

I got this recipe from a cookbook that I own called The Gluten-Free Table, which was written by Emeril Lagasse's daughters Jilly and Jessie.  They grew up eating their dad's delicious food (that The Hubby and I are obsessed with as I have detailed in the past here and here and here), and were diagnosed with gluten sensitivities in their 20's.  Instead of never being able to eat their favourite foods again, they decided to develop their own gluten-free versions.  This is the second thing that I have made from the cookbook, and so far it's been a yummy success.

These Chili Beef Cucumber Cups are really easy to make, but require a bit of prep work beforehand because the beef needs to marinate for 4 to 24 hours.  There is one change that I would make to the recipe, and that would be that the original method calls for the cucumber to be cut into 1.5-inch pieces, but we found this to be too big and all who voted agreed that a 1-inch cup would be better for next time.  Hollowing out the cucumber is easily accomplished through the use of a melon baller.


Lemongrass and Chili Beef in Cucumber Cups

Makes: 16 - 18 cucumber cups


  • 1 lemongrass stalk (discoloured outer leaves removed), finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small red chili pepper (seeds removed), chopped
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp Thai fish sauce (nuoc mam)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp soy sauce (I used gluten-free)
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • Small handful of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • Small handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped, plus additional leaves for garnish
  • 1/2 pound flank or skirt steak
  • 2 large long English cucumbers 

Place all ingredients except steak and cucumbers into a food processor, and pulse until fairly smooth.  The mixture may still be a tad lumpy because of the lemongrass.

Cut the steak into 1/4-inch strips, or thinner if possible.

Place the steak into a bowl and cover with the lemongrass marinade, mixing together to combine.  Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, but no longer than 24 hours.

After the steak has marinated, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature before cooking.  In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, saute the meat slices for 5 minutes, or until fully cooked, turning the meat frequently as you cook it.  Take off the heat and allow the meat to cool slightly.  Transfer the meat to a cutting board and dice into very small pieces with a sharp knife.  Set aside.

Peel the cucumber, and slice into 1-inch pieces.  Using a melon baller or a small spoon, scoop out any seeds and create a small cavity in each cucumber piece, but don't break a hole into the bottom of the cucumber cup.

Fill the cucumber cups with the steak mixture, pushing it down into the cucumber as far as it will go to pack in as much of the steak mixture as possible.  Place onto a serving dish and garnish with the extra mint leaves.

Recipe Source:  The Gluten-Free Table by Jilly Lagasse and Jessie Lagasse Swanson


One Year Ago:  Vegetarian Black Bean Chili (one of my favourite things to eat on this planet)


  1. Haha! In the spirit of paleo. I think our spirit died. :(
    I'd eat these again though any time.

    PS. Your posts are so thorough... love the pictures.

    1. Haha! Yeah, perhaps for now, but I'm sure you will get back into the swing of things once you are back into the swing of things a little more. I definitely want to make these again soon (but with smaller cucumber cups). Thanks for commenting and complimenting Alex! :)


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