Take, for instance, this Japanese cucumber salad. Tangy, sweet and salty, this side dish is so easy to prepare. Pair it with yakitori or tebasaki, and your meal will be twice as satisfying.
The ingredients are pantry staples. For the dressing, there’s rice vinegar, sugar, salt and soy sauce. There is only one vegetable that goes into the salad. Cucumber, of course. Japanese cucumber, to be more precise.
Japanese cucumber is slimmer than the more ubiquitous English cucumber. The flesh is firmer and less watery. And that makes it ideal for making this salad. The extra step of salting the cucumber slices to remove excess liquid gives the vegetable a wonderful springiness for better mouth feel.
There is cooking involved here but there is soaking. We added wakame to the salad so that had to be soaked in water until fully hydrated. The sliced cucumber went into a bowl, tossed with salt and left to expel excess water.
The rehydrated wakame was cut into slices. The cucumber slices were squeezed to get rid of as much water as possible so prevent flavors from getting diluted.
The ingredients for the dressing are mixed together and drizzled over the cucumbers and wakame.
For the final touch, toasted sesame seeds. Everything is tossed together and the cucumber salad is ready to be served.
Japanese cucumber salad
- 2 generous pinches dried wakame
- 1 Japanese cucumber
- 1 teaspoon rock salt
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- ½ teaspoon rock salt
- ½ teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- Place the wakame in a bowl, pour in warm water and leave to rehydrate.
- Rinse the cucumber, pat dry, slice thinly (a mandoline slicer is useful), place in a bowl, add the salt and toss.
- After ten minutes, squeeze the wakame to remove the water then cut into one-inch lengths.
- Squeeze the cucumber slices and discard the soaking liquid.
- Stir together all the ingredients for the dressing (make sure the sugar and salt are fully dissolved).
- Place the cucumber slices and wakame in a bowl and drizzle the dressing over them.
- Add the sesame seeds, toss and serve.