No, not something that happens when you’ve got your arms full of groceries and the cat tries to welcome you home by winding around your legs, but rather the light, refreshing sensation I experienced whilst nibbling on my cucumber salad. I didn’t want to call it a salad because for some reason “cucumber salad” evokes memories of gobs mayonnaise, which I can’t really explain because I’ve never had a mayo-heavy cucumber salad. Those of you who remember my potato salad post might think I’m obsessed with mayonnaise (or rather its absence), but I think I’m well justified in my aversion to it: it’s yucky. Anyhoo, enough with the jibber-jabber and on with the recipe!
I’ve been making my own version for a long time, but when I saw the version published in Seductions of Rice by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, I had to sit up and take notice. The difference between my version and theirs is in the preparation and a few of the ingredients. For example, to make MY tossed cucumbers, I would just julienne cucumbers and drizzle them with a splash of rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, roasted sesame oil and top with roasted sesame seeds. Voilà, done! THEIR tossed cucumbers are a little more elegant, so I reproduced the recipe here (and hope they don’t mind, as I’m praising their culinary skills!), with a slight modification. Since we’re feeling a little nostalgic (remember we were talking about the potato salads of yore), let’s put on some vintage Micheal Jackson for this recipe, and Billie Jean our way through this salad.
- 1 English cucumber (or 6-8 of those little ones)
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- 1 heaping tsp grated ginger
- 1-2 tbsp rice vinegar (depending on how much vinegar you can take)
- 2 tsp roasted sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 to 1 tsp dried chili pepper flakes
- 2-3 thin strips of red pepper for garnish
Wash the cucumber(s) well. It’s better not to peel it because it’s prettier with the peel (in my humble opinion). You can either trim the ends, cut it lengthwise into quarters, remove the seeds, then cut each quarter lengthwise into 3 or 4 slices, or thinly slice the cucumber into rounds (see above). Place in a colander, sprinkle on the salt and mix gently to ensure all pieces are salted. Let drain over a bowl for about 20 minutes. Rinse the cucumber thoroughly with cold water, wrap in a cotton towel and gently squeeze dry. Place in a shallow serving dish. In a small bowl, blend together the ginger, vinegar, sesame oil and sugar. Pour over the cucumbers and toss gently to coat. Sprinkle the chili flakes over. Add the optional bell pepper garnish. Serve immediately… Why are you still reading? I said now! Heheh.