Cucumbers are popular all over the world in the form of refreshing salad and raw vegetables. This salad is easy to make. The recipe is suitable even for absolute beginners in the art of cooking, but tastes refined and special. The preparation is fun. You can bash away with impunity and relieve some stress through meaningful violence. We have taken the liberty of combining a Chinese and a Japanese recipe here. We hope not to hurt anyone’s feelings (sorry, Hirohito!).
Smashing the cucumbers is a Chinese technique. The fantastic dressing comes rather from Japan, from the classic cucumber salad named Sunomono. Astonishingly, the smashed cucumbers taste quite different from sliced ones. They also lose some bitterness due to the dehydration.
For smashing, it is best to use a meat tenderizer. Most households in Germany and Austria have such a device to pound Schnitzel. Use the flat side. If you do not have a meat tenderizer, use a small pot with a handle. This works almost as well.
Just hit it, but don’t squish it completely. We do not want cucumber puree, we want a smashed cucumber.
Cut the smashed cucumbers into roughly equal bite-sized pieces, this is how the salad tastes best.
Now we will drain the cut cucumbers. To do this, we hang a strainer over a pot. We mix the cucumbers with a little salt to extract as much water and bitterness as possible.
We recommend not to be irritated by uninvited spectators.
Now we can prepare the dressing. Simply put all the liquid ingredients, salt and sugar in a large enough bowl. You should then stir them well with a whisk until the sugar has completely dissolved.
Cut the nori seaweed leaf into strips as thin as possible.
Now we cut about three cloves of garlic (to taste) into thin slices, as evenly as possible. From this we will make a delicious crunch.
Don’t worry: the garlic won’t spoil your breath, because after frying, only crunchy flavor will remain. In a small saucepan, we heat neutral vegetable oil until it “bizzles” slightly and deep-fry the garlic slices in it. It takes a surprisingly long time for them to turn the right shade of gold. Be sure to stand next to it, because hot oil is serious business. You can remove the finished slices with a strainer.
Place the garlic slices on a small plate to cool. The resulting garlic oil is very tasty. It is best to pour it into an airtight jar. It is perfect to drizzle on a fragrant pizza, pasta or on some dumplings.
After 20 to 30 minutes, the cucumbers will have lost enough water.
We can now finish the salad. Pour the dressing into a small bowl so you can measure out exactly, and pour only as much of it on the cucumbers as you need.
If you like spicy food, mix in the chili flakes, if not, sprinkle very little of it on top. At the end, sprinkle everything with a few nori strips, the sesame seeds and the garlic slices.
This cucumber salad is a wonderful side dish for Japanese food. It typically involves serving two side dishes, a soup, a main dish and a bowl of rice. A radish salad can be a wonderful additional side dish.
And may the taste be with you.
(serves 4 as a side dish):
4 small cucumbers
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar
3 garlic cloves
1 nori seaweed leaf