Sunday, September 1, 2013

Asian Cucumber Salad

Here's another fresh, sprightly cucumber salad to carry us through the end of summer and into fall. It has more flavor punch than the typically milder suomono, and with a bit of seafood added could transition into a main dish salad. The vinaigrette is amazing, punchy enough to elevate those ordinary cucumber and radishes to star status. We enjoy this salad as a simple side, but I plan to pair it with grilled meats, pile it on a sausage filled bun or even use it to top a fish taco as the warm weather continues. 

Can you tell, I really like this new, flavorful cucumber salad? It was inspired by a recipe posted a year ago on Food52 by a cook who credited Deborah Madison for his inspiration. Hey, this salad has history... of a sort. 

Asian Cucumber Salad
Serves 2

large seedless cucumber, sliced in thin rounds
1 small sweet or red onion, cut lengthwise in thin slivers
Several small radishes, cut in thin slivers
fresh jalapeño pepper, seeded & diced small (substitute poblano for less heat)
1/2 teaspoon garlic, finely minced
teaspoon fresh ginger, grated or pressed
1 fat, fresh 
lime, zest and juice
tablespoon rice vinegar
teaspoon fish sauce (substitute Ponzu if you prefer)
teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon mirin (or 1 teaspoon honey or use seasoned rice vinegar)
teaspoon sesame seeds
tablespoons salted and roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
Fresh basil, mint, or cilantro or a combination of them, chopped
1/2 pound cooked crab or shrimp (optional) 

Add the cucumber slices, onion, radishes, and pepper to a large bowl, toss gently to mix.
Use a small bowl and whisk together the garlic, ginger, lime zest and juice, rice vinegar, fish sauce, sesame oil, and mirin.  Drizzle the mix over the vegetables and toss until thoroughly mixed. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, allowing the flavors to deepen.
Sprinkle with the sesame seeds, peanuts, and herbs and toss again before serving. Top with seafood, if desired, to make this a main dish salad.

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