Kyuurimomi – Japanese cucumber salad

From Rosalie Swedlin’s World of Salads, 1980, Book Club Associates. (picture will come – promise)!

The intro starts with “I have always been fascinated by salads”. And at that point I put the book down. For about two years. On a scale of “it was a dark and stormy night” to 10, that rates a miserable squib of a starter. But now I’m older, and wiser, and OK – I’ve been eating crap for the past weeks, and it’s summer. Perhaps it’s time for me to be… fascinated by salad too? Or at least have good intentions before you find me face down in a Tuc cheese sandwich coma next week…

Therefore! This week I shall be having THREE salads from this book, picked fairly randomly. I’ll admit now that it is some humble pie (salad is a pie of all the salad obv) I am also chowing down on, as once you get over “Uh!! salad! booo-RING, grandad!!”, there’s actually a huge variety of salads, but also sauces, dressings, SO many vegetables, and a section called ‘exotic, expensive and eccentric’ salads, which is a bit heavy on the truffles for my taste.

First up, we have kyurimomi – that’s the author’s spelling, the dicky gives きゅうりもみ so I’ll go with that. Over to the blurb.

Says Rosalie: The western distinction between cooked vegetables and fresh salads is larghely ignored by the Japanese. When cooked at all, vegetables are only cooked briefly and even then, often served cold.

many vegetables are marinated in vinegar and dressed with shoyu sauce. this recipe is topped with toasted sesame seeds and makes an excellent accompanient to grilled fish or as a side dish with the Japanese “sashimi”, sliced raw fish.

ingredients

1 large cucumber (note to non-UK bloggers – this is a UK book and I cook in the UK, so I use an “English cucumber”! I hear from my global correspondents that American cucumbers are different in some [nasssty] way. I’ve seen recipes call for ‘Japanese cucumbers’ rather than American ones – from what I can see and what I’ve had in Japanese restaurants, Japanese cucumber isn’t so different to an English one. I am so curious to know what on earth passes for a cucumber in the US now. Share your horror stories!).
5ml (1 tsp) salt
150 (1/4pint) vinegar
30ml (2tbs) sugar
30ml (2tbs) light shoyu sauce*
15ml (1 tbs) white sesame seeds.

*(confusing) BOOK NOTE: soy sauce can be used as a substitute for shóyu sauce, which is the same thing (BUT IF…??). However, soy sauces produced in the West are much thicker and stronger than the Japanese varieties. Usukuchi, a light and delicately flavoured shóyu, is best for this recipe. Supermarket soy sauce can be substituted, but it should be used more sparingly.

Wash the cucumber and slice, unpeeled, into paperthin rounds. Sprinkle lightly with salt and place in a colander or sieve to drain for 30mins. If a plate is placed on top of the cucumber and occasionally pressed down hard, even more liquird can be removed. Place cucumber in a clean tea towel and pat dry. Transfer to a bowl or dish. Mix together the vinegar, sugar, shóyu (or soy) sauce. Pour over the cucumber and toss gently.

Toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan, skaking constantly until they begin to jump (they can also be toasted under the gril). Remove from the heat and crush with a mortar and pestle. Sprinkle over the cucumber and serve.

Results

kyuurimomi
with pan fried chicken and lettuce for today’s lunch.

Notes:
– If you’re going to call it shóyu, for goodness sake use the right accent! shōyu ! Friends – the MACRON!
– I used Kikkoman ‘all purpose seasoning’ soy sauce which is dark (koikuchi), but this is an usukuchi type – I’ve not had a ‘light’ Japanese soy sauce before – but I had a litre of a ‘light’ Chinese brand (i thought pearl river bridge – will check next time i’m in loon moon) and – oh – so salty and kinda nasty. I ran straight back to dark Kikkoman after that… Maki blogged that Japanese people lol at those Kikkoman dispensers like “Americans lol at own brand cola” (or words to that effect), but, you know – whatever! Dude I have no issues with Kikkoman all purpose.
– Cucumbers were still pretty damp after their draining – give them a good squish with your hands. A quick look up of “momi” gives meaining of rubbing/shoving, so I think we can read that into the recipe rather than the genteel pushing down on a plate. SQUISH THEM.

Conclusion

It’s pushing it a bit to call this a salad – it’s pickles which make an excellent side dish! The only difference between this and tsukemono (if you ask my totally uneducated opinion) is that tsukemono is actual pickled/fermented stuff whereas this stuff is eaten whilst it’s fairly fresh. There’s still a hefty kick from the vinegar, mind. On saying that though, there’s no harm in leaving some sitting about for another day (or two). I do think this recipe drops the ball by not getting you to squeeze the cucumbers! Squish these together a lot and they’re great, but if they’re still sitting in a puddle of water when they’re on the plate, something’s not great there. Go to town on them! What really makes this delicious is the toasted pounded sesame seeds – don’t skimp on the sprinkles!

Next up: sook choo na mool, or the internet seems to suggest sukju namul as a better english-ism. It’s a super korean bean sprout salad. Hold onto yr mung beans. In fact – start sprouting some now and you can follow the recipe for yrself in a few days!

Pickled by Sarah

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4 responses to “Kyuurimomi – Japanese cucumber salad

  1. Hurray – it’s salad month! Well I know what I’m having for lunch – YUM! (Especially with some chicken, good choice.)

    What kind of vinegar did you use? I’m assuming rice?

  2. American cucumbers are longer, thinner, and usually packed in wax so you have to peel the green off. Horrible, really.

  3. wait – doi, I confuse myself. The English are the long thin ones and the American are fatter. But the wax, the horrible, horrible wax!

  4. Ah! The recipe didn’t actually specify, which is strange because it generally does throughout the rest of the book. I used white wine vinegar. I generally use rice vinegar out of preference but I’m out right now, and so apparently are the shops!

    I can tell you, from sampling more of this this morning (pickles for breakfast!), there aint half a kick after a day or two!

    English ones are fairly long and thin yep – is it mostly the wax then? Like the wax on miserable lemons? I hate hate paying *more* in order NOT to get wax on yr lemons! But it’s gotta be done…