YIELD Makes 4 main-dish servings
|4||evenly shaped zucchini, cut crosswise into 4 (2-inch) lengths|
|3||small dried Oriental mushrooms|
|1/2||pound ground beef chuck|
|2||tablespoons diagonally sliced green onion|
|1||tablespoon soy sauce|
|2||teaspoons sesame oil|
|1/8||to 1/4 teaspoon black pepper|
|2||cloves garlic, minced|
|2||tablespoons slivered blanched almonds|
|1||large yellow onion, sliced|
|1‑1/2||cups beef broth, divided|
|Ground red pepper (optional)|
|2||teaspoons cornstarch (optional)|
|Green and red bell pepper slivers for garnish|
- Stand zucchini chunks, largest cut sides up, on cutting board. Make cut through each chunk to within 3/8 inch from bottom. Rotate zucchini and make another cut, at right angle to the first cut, being careful not to cut all the way through.*
*To prevent cutting all the way through, place 3 or 4 zucchini chunks at a time between pair of bamboo chopsticks or two 3/8-inch dowel sticks before cutting.
- Place zucchini, cut sides up, in 13X9-inch baking pan. Gently open cuts in each chunk and sprinkle surfaces lightly with salt. Let stand at room temperature 45 minutes to extract moisture.
- Place mushrooms in small bowl; add enough hot water to cover mushrooms completely. Let stand 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine ground beef, green onion, soy sauce, oil, black pepper, egg yolk and garlic in large bowl; mix well.
- Drain mushrooms and squeeze out excess water. Cut stems off mushrooms; discard. Finely chop mushroom tops and stir into beef mixture.
- Rinse zucchini chunks, 1 at a time, under cold running water. Gently squeeze to remove excess water and drain on paper towels. Gently open each zucchini and stuff 1/16 of beef mixture (about 1 rounded tablespoon) into cuts of zucchini.
- Heat wok over medium-high heat 1 minute or until hot. Add almonds; cook and stir 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from heat. Transfer almonds to small cup; set aside.
- Add onion slices, 1 cup beef broth and sugar to wok; stir to mix well. Carefully arrange stuffed zucchini, cut sides up, in single layer in onion mixture, placing larger chunks in center and smaller chunks around edge of wok. Sprinkle top of chunks lightly with red pepper. Cover; bring to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce heat to medium; simmer 10 minutes or until beef is firm and zucchini is crisp-tender. Add more broth if it evaporates.
- Transfer zucchini to plate with slotted spoon, leaving onion in broth. Cover; keep warm. If thicker sauce is desired, combine cornstarch and 2 tablespoons broth in cup. Stir cornstarch mixture into onion mixture. Cook and stir until sauce boils and thickens. Spoon sauce over serving platter or individual plates. Place stuffed zucchini on top of sauce; sprinkle with almonds. Garnish, if desired. Serve immediately.
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