One day, there were a couple of cucumbers staring me in the face.
In our household, only CSC has a special affinity for raw cucumbers. She raves about their "refreshing" and "crunchy" nature. They just seem very watery and tasteless to me. JS actually describes the taste as "wet rag." ;)
We usually make Greek salad when we have cucumbers as I find them more acceptable when "cooked" by the acid in Greek salad and flavored by the olives and feta. Besides using them for Greek salad, however, our repertoire of cucumber dishes is quite limited.
So, I turned to Bittman. Thumbing through The Best Recipes in the World, I saw a recipe for "Seaweed Salad with Cucumber and Chicken or Shrimp". This Japanese dish called for dressing the seaweed (wakame) and cucumber with a soy sauce-rice vinegar-mirin-sesame dressing.
Oooh, seaweed! Oooh, the dressing! Oooh, sesame seeds! Then, oh. Cucumbers. I just imagined the nice flavors being diluted by the watery cucumbers. So, since I actually enjoy cooked cucumbers a lot, I decided to make this a warm salad!
Wakame seaweed comes dried and is simply reconstituted in some water.
So I did that first, then drained them and squeezed out the excess water. I cut the wakame into bite-size pieces.
I also sliced a red onion and diced those cucumbers.
To make my warm salad, I heated up some oil in the wok. I added the slightest amount of chili flakes, then the sliced red onions and diced cucumbers. The dressing ingredients went in next: soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar and sesame oil. When the cucumbers lost their rawness (but not mushy), I added the wakame, gave everything a quick stir, then shut off the heat. Sesame seeds went in last.
Oh, that's right, I didn't bother with the chicken or shrimp.
This was great! I love wakame, and I love cooked cucumber. It was quite popular at the table.
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Simmered Saba Mackerel with Daikon Radish (Saba Oroshi-ni)
Steelhead Trout and Enoki Mushrooms with Wasabi Cream Sauce
Grilled Brats à la Japadog
Warm Wakame Cucumber Salad
Grilled Eggplant with Sweet Miso
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Warm Wakame Cucumber Salad
adapted from The Best Recipes in the World by Mark Bittman
Makes 8 servings
2 ounces wakame or assorted seaweed
2 medium cucumbers, diced (peeled if thick-skinned)
1 small red onion, sliced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
chili flakes, to taste
salt, to taste
sesame seeds, for garnish
Rinse wakame. Soak wakame in a generous amount of water for 5 minutes, until tender. Drain, gently squeeze out excess moisture, and chop/cut up into bite-size pieces.
In a wok, heat oil over high heat. Add chili flakes (if using) and sliced red onion. Cook for a few seconds.
Add diced cucumbers and the dressing ingredients: soy sauce, rice vinegar, mirin and sesame oil. Cook cucumbers until desired doneness. Add the wakame. Season to taste and garnish with sesame seeds. Serve warm or room temperature.