Nami’s blog (Just One Cookbook) is one of my biggest Japanese cuisine inspiration sources. If I hadn’t written about any of her recipes recently, it’s only because several of those I had tested and posted have become my staples (Korokke or Potato Teriyaki Pork Rolls are the best examples). This refreshing salad has been bookmarked for a long time and after testing it I already feel that it will regularly appear on my table too.
If you go to a Japanese grocery shop (or to an organic food shop), you will find several types of seaweed, most of them sold in dried form. They have different colours, textures, they are cut in different shapes, they are used in slightly different ways and of course their taste is different. This salad calls for wakame seaweed which is usually sold pre-cut, in small bags. When soaked, wakame’s size increases in a very impressive way. Since it happens very quickly, I am still amazed every time I watch it “grow” in a bowl of water. Since the only dish I have been making with it was miso soup, I was glad to find a second and completely different way to use this seaweed.
This salad is a part of Japanese “sunomono” or vinegared dishes category. Even though I have already had this type of salad in Japanese restaurants, it was my first home-made and I must say I loved everything about it. The colours, the lightness and tanginess of the dressing, the slightly crunchy wakame texture, the dynamic “kick” julienned ginger provided and, most of all, the aroma. In fact, once mixed with the dressing and chilled, the salad’s smell reminded me of freshly caught, fried small fish… This unusual impression is probably due to the combination of wakame, dashi (Japanese stock) and sesame oil. Thank you, Nami, for one more amazing recipe.
TIP: My only modification was reducing the sugar content because I prefer acid dressings. If you want it milder, double the sugar amount (1 tablespoon instead of 1 teaspoon).
Dashi, the Japanese stock, can be bought instant or prepared at home. I make it once a week and refrigerate it (it is used in many Japanese dishes I prepare). Click here to see the recipe.
Toasted sesame seeds were not included in Nami’s recipe, but I just couldn’t stop myself from adding them…
Preparation: 15 minutes + chilling time
Ingredients (serves 2):
1/2 long cucumber or 1 shorter (about 15 cm)
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons dashi (Japanese stock; click here to see how to make it at home)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 flat teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 thin slices of julienned fresh ginger
Soak the wakame in a bowl of cold water and drain it after 10 minutes.
Peel the cucumber, leaving the skin with every second stroke of the peeler, so that you obtain a nice pattern.
Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and then into thin slices.
In a bowl combine the cucumber with salt, mixing well with your hands, and leave for 3 minutes.
Squeeze the cucumber to eliminate the water it has produced and put it into the fridge.
In the meantime combine the dressing ingredients (vinegar, dashi, soy sauce, oil, sugar) and bring them to boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
When the dressing has cooled down, combine it with wakame and cucumbers.
Chill the salad.
Sprinkle with ginger. Serve.