HEY WORD DANCERS! We’re familiar with “bread” and “gravy" and “dough" as synonyms for money but really, who knew that “cucumber” is another metonym? (New word for me!) Well, if only we had a greenback for every one of the gargantuan green cucumbers the garden will spit out for the next couple of months while it’s hot-hot-hot. “There was just one cucumber today,” I reported one morning last year after a sweaty session hauling hoses across the yard. “Not possible,” was the grunt of a response. Well, who knew, too, that said cucumbers hide under those giant itch-inducing leaves? The haul would have filled a small bank vault.
Now we do l-o-v-e cucumbers (starting and ending the season with Old-Fashioned Cucumber Salad) but there’s no way two of us nor even two hundred of our closest friends could keep up with this cucumber onslaught. So a recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen really intrigued me! First the ingredients were all in my pantry, chances are, yours too. So off I went. We really liked this salad, it would work especially well with an Asian-inspired meal.
RECIPE for CHINESE CUCUMBER SALAD
Time to table: 1 hour
Makes about 6 cups
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 cups water
2 or more cups ice
4 garden cucumbers
1/4 cup (55g) red wine vinegar
1/4 cup (65g) soy sauce
3 tablespoons (7g) Stevia or Splenda or sugar
1 tablespoon (11g) toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon hot sauce such as Frank’s or sriracha
Black sesame seeds, optional taste-wise but dramatic appearance-wise
SOAKING/PICKLING WATER In a large bowl, stir together salt and water until the salt dissolves. Add the ice. Peel or “stripe” the cucumber skins, then cut in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a spoon (a serrated grapefruit spoon works especially well). Depending on the size of the cucumbers, cut the halves in half or thirds again, then cut on the cross-wise for bite-size pieces. Drop the cucumbers into the ice water. (Kalyn’s recipe says to let the cucumbers crisp up for about 30 minutes in the ice water but she says she’s not sure it’s necessary. I just let them crisp up while I mixed the dressing and moved on.)
DRESSING Combine all the dressing ingredients in a bowl.
COMBINE Drain cucumbers well and transfer to a container with a tight lid. (The recipe filled two of my ever-indispensable quart-size canning jars at first, then after soaking shrank down to about six cups.) Pour dressing over top and turn over a time or two to distribute. Let soak for about 30 minutes, turning every 5 minutes or so to distribute. After 30 minutes, drain the cucumbers but reserve the dressing.
TO SERVE Transfer cucumber pieces to a serving bowl, sprinkle with a small amount of the reserved dressing and a few black sesame seeds.
LEFTOVERS Salad keeps in the refrigerator for three or four days but is best on the first day.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
Other additions, if you’re so inspired? Fresh ginger. Lemon zest. Slivers of white onion or green onion or garlic, yes, garlic! Fresh basil.
You definitely don’t want the cucumbers to sit in the marinade more than 30 minutes, they get all harsh and unappealing.
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MORE FAVORITE CUCUMBER SALAD RECIPES
~ Cucumbers in Vinegar ~
~ Julia Child's Cucumber Salad ~
~ Tomato Platter with Olives & Feta ~
~ more cucumber recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Nana's Cucumbers with Sour Cream ~
~ Cucumber Dip with Feta ~
~ Smoked Salmon Salad with
Quick-Pickled Cucumbers & Roasted Peppers ~
~ more cucumber recipes ~
~ Favorite Summer Salad Recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
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