Cucumber Wakame Salad
By Pam Turczyn
Welcome to the dog days of summer! When the weather is hot and humid, our appetites and energy levels are often low. We may not feel like cooking anything complicated or eating heavy food. Originating from the land of mushi-atsui (hot-humid) summers, this Japanese recipe is cooling and simple to make out of just a few nutritious ingredients.
Sunomono means “vinegared thing” and applies to many traditional side dishes, particularly this one. Some variations include the addition of cooked and chilled octopus slices or shredded crab. I’ve substituted apple cider vinegar for the usual rice vinegar. Both types are revered for their many health boosting properties, including energizing the body and stimulating the appetite, especially helpful during summer’s enervating heat. Both are slightly sweet and less acidic than white vinegar.
Instead of sugar or mirin (a sweet cooking wine), my version uses honey. Thank you, bees!
Makes 4 small or 2 large servings for about $3.50.
3 Persian cucumbers (second choice would be an English cucumber cut in half the long way. Third choice would be kirby cucumbers. Regular garden cucumbers are too watery and have too many seeds.)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons dried Emerald Cove Wakame seaweed, soaked in water 15 minutes
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 scant teaspoon honey
2 teaspoons soy sauce, or to taste
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds (or, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil can be added to the dressing)
Start by peeling and then slicing the cucumbers. This is your Zen moment; take the time and focus to slice them as thin as you possibly can. Think “paper thin.”
Place the sliced cucumbers in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and then toss. Wait 10 or so minutes. When they look semi-transparent, squeeze out the excess water with your hands.
Drain and squeeze out the soaking water from the wakame. Add to the cucumbers.
Whisk together the vinegar, honey and soy sauce and then pour it over the cucumber slices and wakame. Stir until well coated.
Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and enjoy!