Sesame Cucumber Salad
There are many cold dishes in Asian cuisine featuring cucumbers which are first salted and then later served in a dressing of some sort. Sometimes, the cucumber is allowed to ferment slightly in order to produce a nice lactic acid pickle and, at other times, as here, the salting time is just brief enough to soften the flesh and make it receptive to flavorings. Today’s dish definitely falls within the latter category. It doesn’t hail from any particular cuisine but would be equally at home on a Chinese, Japanese, or Korean table.
The Basic Method for Making Sesame Cucumber Salad
The central feature of all cucumber salads of this nature, is the salting process, in which salt is sprinkled over slices or sticks of cumber to allow them to macerate. During the process, the cucumber will throw of salty juices. Once the flesh is sufficiently softened, the cucumber will be rinsed to remove excess salt, and then is lightly squeezed dry.
In a related style of dish, the cucumber is lightly pickled by allowing it to ferment at room temperature for a while. The brine produce by the salt and expressed juices help protect the cucumber from spoilage organisms while allowing lactic acid bacteria to proliferate and produce the tart acidity of Lactic Acid Fermentation. Naturally, this style of dish takes longer to prepare.
The liquid expelled by the salting and squeezing the cucumber will be replaced by the dressing during marination, so that the flesh takes up the flavor. The marination time does not need to be long and, in all, little appetizer or Banchan style salads of this sort can be prepared and ready for service in about an hour or so.
Serving the Salad
I used some Korean Chili Threads for garnish on the salad prepared for this post, but anything along the same lines would suffice. Chopped red chili would be great for some presentations but, on this date, I served this dish alongside Crispy Skin Pork Belly dressed with Red Chili Oil and I didn’t want to be too repetitive in flavorings.
The Pork was delicious, BTW ….
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Sesame Cucumber Salad
- 2 – 3 Baby Cucumbers sliced into thin sticks;
- ¾ tsp. Salt;
- 3 tbsp. Mirin or 3 tbsp. Rice Wine plus 1 tsp. Sugar;
- 1/3 tsp very finely minced Garlic;
- ½ tsp. finely minced Ginger;
- 1/8 tsp Sesame Oil optional.
- Toss the cucumber sticks with the salt and let sit for about 30 minutes or so until they throw off a little of their juice.
- Mix together the Mirin (or substitute) along with the garlic, ginger and sesame oil and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors blend.
- Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan until they start to turn golden and release their aroma. Then crush them lightly and set aside.
- Finally, rinse the cucumber sticks and squeeze vigorously to expel as much liquid as possible then toss with the dressing and let sit for a further 15 minutes.
- When ready to serve, toss the cucumber with the Sesame Seed, plate, and garnish as desired.