This Japanese Cucumber Salad is an example of a ‘Sunomono’, or Japanese ‘vinegared’ preparation. It is as elegant as it is easy to prepare. There are all sorts of variations on the general theme but this is about as basic as it gets. You can, if you like, simply use plain rice vinegar for the dressing but, here, we will be using a pre-made Japanese Nihaizu Seasoned Vinegar.
The Basic Method for making a Japanese Cucumber Salad
For this recipe, you need about a cup of cucumber slices in all. You can slice as thin or as thick as you like but thinner ones, about 2 or 3 millimeters thick will look more attractive when plated in small bowls for service.
When salted, the slices will wilt and soften and will throw off a fair amount of water, as you can see in the above picture.
The cucumber slices need to be squeezed after being drained. Removing as much water as possible allows the slices to absorb the vinegar dressing, in effect ‘quick-pickling’ them.
If you are not familiar with Japanese seasoned vinegars, you may want to follow my suggested recipe for a Nihaizu in my post on Basic Japanese Seasoned Vinegars. You can, of course, vary the ingredient proportions but, if you do, I recommend that you keep the Soy Sauce quantity low enough so as to avoid darkening the cucumber too much. Alternatively, you could use my recipe for a ‘Sanbaizu’ seasoned vinegar instead, or else just use a plain Rice Vinegar alone.
The slices only need to be marinated for about ten minutes or so, after which you should gently squeeze them to remove excess liquid. I have used both black and white sesame seeds as a garnish here but you may prefer something else.
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Japanese Cucumber Salad
- 1 cup Cucumber slices all about 2-3 mm thick;
- ½ tsp. Salt;
- 2 tbsp. Nihaizu or use plain rice vinegar;
- Sesame seeds for garnish white, black, or a mix.
- Salt the cucumber slices and let them macerate in a bowl for about 20 or 30 minutes.
- When the cucumber has wilted, drain away the water thrown off during maceration and then gently squeeze the slices to remove as much remaining water as possible.
- Stir the Nihaizu, or plain rice vinegar, in with the slices and allow to sit for at least ten minutes.
- Finally, squeeze the slices a second time to remove excess lid, then place in serving bowls and garnish with sesame seeds, or as desired.