I’m daydreaming of a world tour of cucumber salad as I water my garden. It’s on my bucket list to grow all thirteen cucumbers from my favorite seed company — “Renee’s …
I’m daydreaming of a world tour of cucumber salad as I water my garden. It’s on my bucket list to grow all thirteen cucumbers from my favorite seed company — “Renee’s Garden Seeds.” Next summer, I’m ordering — The Chinese “Suyo Long” and the Mediterranean “Garden Oasis” both with thin skins and crispy flesh.
The cucumber’s mild flavor and crisp texture make a perfect canvas for flavorful summer salads. English, Japanese and Persian types are nearly seedless, with mild flavors, and thin skins. I prefer them, but regular grocery store cukes work fine if they’re peeled, seeded and salted as needed.
After peeling, cut the cucumbers in half and split each half lengthwise. To remove the seeds, I use a teaspoon. Try slicing in half moons, coins, chunks, on the diagonal or in sticks. If you're going to eat your salad right away, don't bother salting the cucumbers. Salt and drain for salads containing oil or fatty dairy products, because watery cucumbers ruin cream sauces. Salting is a cinch! After slicing, sprinkle ½ to 1 teaspoon of salt on, lay them evenly in a colander and drain for ½ hour. Rinse well and pat dry.
Let's see if you can make ten different versions of cucumber salad this summer! I’m giving you some starting ideas.
In East Asia, specifically Japan, Korea, and China, cucumber salads are made with toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, scallions, seaweeds, sugar, and salt.
In Southeast Asian Vietnam and Thailand, you can find lemon, limes, rice vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, peanuts, hot chilies, mint, coriander, cilantro, Thai basil, ginger, scallions, sugar, and salt. Indian raitas may include yogurt, lemon, limes, curry, hot chilies, dill, mint, coriander, cilantro, ginger, garlic, sugar, and salt.
Japanese Sunomono: 2 cups thinly sliced cucumbers, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 2 teaspoons sesame seeds.
Thai Cucumber Salad: 2 medium cucumbers, sliced, 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced, 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 1/4 cup chopped mint, 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons fish sauce, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 garlic clove, minced, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes.
In Greece, the Caucasus and Mediterranean cucumber salads feature yogurt, feta, olive oil, lemon, fruit-based vinegars, black pepper, sugar, dill, parsley, coriander, garlic, red onions, bell peppers and tomatoes.
While in Germany, Scandinavia and Slavic countries sour cream, cream, creme fraiche, blue cheeses, salad oils, lemon, vinegars, black pepper, sugar, dill, parsley, tarragon, horseradish, celery seeds, caraway, mustard, red onions, chives, scallions, bell peppers, tomatoes and celery are the cucumber celebrities.
German Gurkensalat: 2 large cucumbers, thinly sliced, 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced, 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
Greek Tzatziki: 2 cups Greek yogurt, 1 large cucumber, grated and squeezed to remove excess liquid, 2 garlic cloves, minced, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill,
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt,1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
•2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
•2 medium salad tomatoes, chopped
•1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
•1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
•3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
•2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
•1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
•1/4 teaspoon or more to taste of sea salt
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the onions, bring back to a boil and time one minute. Strain them out with a hand colander and run under cold water. Pat dry and chop into bite-size pieces. 2. Combine vegetables in a large bowl and add the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. 3. Top with basil and serve.
(More recipes are available at foodcoop.coop/recipes. Sidonie Maroon is culinary educator at The Food Co-op; abluedotkitchen.com. Follow Sidonie on The Food Co-op’s Facebook group, Cooking with the Co-op.