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There’s nothing more cooling or delicious on a hot day than these cucumbers!
Cool As A Cucumber
I found this little gem in an email I get from New York Times Cooking Sad to say I don’t find too many things quite to my liking in many of these emails. Mainly the reason is that the recipes are way too time consuming for me now that I got really lazy LOL. Moreover, many of the ingredients are not available locally for me anymore. When I lived in New York City it wasn’t a problem. Now it is.
However, this recipe sparked a lot of interest since I just bought 2 European cucumbers that day. The original recipe called for “thin-skinned” cucumbers and the first choice was Persian. I’ve never seen Persian cucumbers where I live now…so you see what I mean about hard-to-find or impossible-to-find ingredients!
There’s A Little Prep
Yep, there’s a little prep involved, but nothing overly complicated.
First you have to smash the cucumber portions until the skin splits–hence the need for thin-skinned cucumbers. I would suggest you use a very wide blade knife such as a cleaver, and use the smooth side of a meat mallet to gently smash them. Next time I will do this as the heel of my hand kind of took a little beating here, but nothing too serious. I just think using the cleaver and meat mallet will make it much easier.
The smashing releases the seeds. Just running your fingers along the seed-flesh line should do the trick–did for me–but you could also use a melon baller to clear out the seeds.
After you cut them in the called-for size, you have to salt and sugar them to pull out most of the excess water. Don’t go overboard on the salt–a little will go a long way. Just make sure to use equal portions of salt and sugar. I used about 2 teaspoons of each.
The dressing is only a mixture of very common ingredients, but it’s one of the most delicious dressings I’ve ever tasted.
You might want to make double the amount so you have some on hand for other salads. It should go well with baby spinach or a spring greens mix.
Asian Cucumber Salad
- 2 lbs seedless cucumbers such as English or European
- 1 tsp kosher salt plus more for cucumbers
- 2 tsp granulated sugar plus more for cucumbers
- 1 ½ tbs rice vinegar
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced or put through a press
- red pepper flakes to taste
- 1 handful cilantro leaves for garnish
- 2 tsp toasted white sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
- Rinse cucumbers and pat dry. Cut crosswise into pieces about 4 inches long. Cut each piece in half lengthwise.
- On a work surface, place a piece of cucumber (or several) cut side down. Lay the blade of a large knife flat on top the cucumber and smash down lightly with your other hand. The skin will begin to crack, the flesh will break down and the seeds will separate. Repeat until the whole piece is smashed. Break or slice diagonally into bite-size pieces, leaving the seeds behind.
- Place the cucumber pieces in a strainer and toss with a big pinch of salt and a big pinch of sugar. Place a plastic bag filled with ice on top of the cucumbers to serve as a weight and place the strainer over a bowl. Let drain 15 to 30 minutes on the counter, or in the refrigerator until ready to serve, up to 4 hours.
- Make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine salt, sugar and rice vinegar. Stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Stir in sesame oil and soy sauce.
- When ready to serve, shake cucumbers well to drain off any remaining liquid and transfer to a serving bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss. Add half the dressing, half the garlic and the red pepper flakes to taste, and toss. Keep adding dressing until cucumbers are well coated but not drowned. Taste and add more pepper flakes and garlic if needed. Serve immediately, garnished with cilantro and sesame seeds.
*Adapted from NYT