Friday, August 2, 2013

Japanese Cucumber and Seaweed Salad

When I lived in Japan I would buy pre-made salads every Saturday. My local grocery store made everything from sunomomo to tempura and it was so good! All made daily, I could buy a small package and try it out. Then if I liked it, I could ask my coworkers at the school how to make it.

One of my absolute favorites was this Kyuri Sunomomo (marinated cucumbers salad). It is sweet, crunchy and cool - perfect for a Summer side. As a bonus, it is super easy to recreate here in the states.

If you have an Asian market in your area, the ingredients will be no problem. But, if you live in a small town, like me, you will just need to know where to look. First find a bag of dried seaweed. This is wakame.

I use this in both my miso soup and for salads. It comes dried and all you need to do is soak it for a few minutes in water. It dehydrates quickly. No boiling necessary.

Japanese cucumbers are thinner and have smaller seeds than typical cucumbers here. English cucumbers are closest, but they often cost more in my store so I use regular cucumbers and try to buy the smaller ones. Regardless of which cucumbers you use, you will want to slice them thinly and then salt them so the excess water will be released. I place mine peeled, sliced and salted in a colander for an hour before making this salad.

Then make the dressing.

Japanese Cucumber and Seaweed Salad

You Will Need:
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, sliced 1/8" thin
  • 1/8 c. dried wakame 
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/3 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. dashi stock
Lightly salt the cucumber slices and place in a colander for 10 minutes so the added moisture can be released. With regular cucumbers I will also wrap them in a tea towel and gently squeeze out excess water. Extra squeezing isn't necessary if you are using English cucumbers.

Soak the dried seaweed (wakame) in cold water till softened. It will take at least 15 minutes.

While you are waiting, make the dressing. In a small saucepan combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, salt  and dashi stock. Whisk the mixture on a gentle simmer until all the sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat and allow it to cool.

Place the drained cucumbers and wakame in a medium bowl. Pour the dressing over the top and stir to combine. It can be served immediately as a side, or chilled in the refrigerator before serving. I prefer mine cold, but sometimes I just can't wait to dig in.


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