Friday, April 16, 2010

Japanese Cucumber Salad

My mother was real big on pickles. She said when she was pregnant with me, she wept many tears with craving for two particular Japanese pickles she particularly loved and missed, pickled plums and pickled olives.  It was until I was in my early 20's and went to Boston to an Asian food mart that I was able to find her heart's desire and mailed them to her.  In the meantime, she did a lot of canning from the huge vegetable garden she kept, and  harvested bushel baskets of cucumbers from which she made bread and butter pickles, ripe cucumber pickles, and relishes. I used to butter bread and make pickle sandwiches they were so good!

One particular pickle she made during the summer, was one she called Japanese cucumber salad.  Now, I don't know if these are really Japanese or not; she's Japanese, she made them, so that makes them an authentic Japanese cucumber salad.  I have seen similar recipes on the web, not attributed to the Japanese, so your guess is as good as mine.

Recently my brother Grant asked me about Mom's cucumber salad, if I knew Mom's recipe and did I make it.  We both recalled the nice sweet and sour flavor, slightly crunchy texture,  and to me (and apparently to Grant) totally addictive and memorable.  Once we start on these, we both claim we can eat the whole bowl by ourselves. 

Japanese Cucumber Salad
 
5 medium cucumbers
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional, we never had it with sesame seeds)

Wash the cucumbers. Cut off the ends.   Remove the peel with a paring knife or vegetable peeler, leaving strips of green peel for a striped effect.  Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise.  Using the tip of a spoon, remove the seeds.  Slice the cucumber as thinly as possible (across the narrow side, so that you'll have half-moon shaped slices of cucumber) into a bowl.

Add the salt, and with your impeccably clean hands, mix the salt and cucumber mixture with your hands until the cucumber slices are limp and opaque looking.  This will take 4 or 5 minutes. Cover and set aside for 45 minutes to allow the salt to draw out the cucumber liquid.

In the meantime, mix the lemon juice, sugar and vinegar in a separate bowl. 

Transfer the cucumber mixture to a colander and squeeze out as much juice as possible.  My mother used to wrap the cucumbers in a clean white linen dishtowel and squeeze and twist the towel to remove the liquid, which is the way I do it.  Discard the salt water. Put the cucumbers into bowl.  (The volume will be greatly decreased from the amount you initially started with.)

Add the lemon juice, sugar, and vinegar mixture to the squeezed cucumbers.Add sesame seeds if using.  Let sit for an hour or so, refrigerated, and then enjoy!

I am submitting this recipe to Lynda  for April's Family Recipes.

31 comments:

  1. These sound SO good, Katy.....a little different from the cucumber dish I make when the garden bursts with them. I ONLY HOPE the weather cooperates this year for a good crop! :)

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  2. I adore cucumber salads like this and can guarantee I would eat the whole bowl, too! What beautiful memories of your mother!

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  3. I love cucumbers and we planted some. When they start producing I will definitely make this salad. Sounds delish. We were just outside picking spinach and now I have tons of eat. I have to go wash, clean it, spin it dry, and bag it. I loved your post. Have a great weekend.

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  4. I love cucumbers and your bowl of salad makes me drool...ill try this soon. Thanks for this yummy recipe.

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  5. This salad sounds like a great mix of sweet and salty! I love how it's saturated with memories.

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  6. This is kinda like what I do with cucumbers but I don't make it into a salad. Will have to do that by chopping them up.
    Jackie

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  7. What a lovely pickle! I can just see how tasty and refreshing it is!

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  8. Yummy recipe Katy..very much like the cucumber salad I make. We both posted salads today..'great minds think alike'..I shall leave out the next line:)

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  9. I have a couple of cucumber fans in this house who would love this. What a great summer dish!

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  10. I am so making this as soon as a can get a good, fresh, homegrown cucumber this summer!!

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  11. this is totally making my mouth water! i love the story too!

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  12. Mmmmm...my mouth was watering as I read this. I love pickles -- especially bread 'n butter ones!

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  13. Yum. This is a refreshing salad. I can't wait for the cucumber crop.
    Mimi

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  14. A light, refreshing and appetizing salad.
    p.s. Can't wait to try your cream pie! :-)

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  15. What a lovely sentiment about your mother and I'll bet you made her day sending her those pickled plums and olives! I love cucumbers and this sounds so delicious it's making my mouth water just thinking about it. Will have to try this to satisfy the craving i'm having now! Thanks! LOL

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  16. nice salad.. I am sure would have tasted great with lemon and vinegar....

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  17. Dear Katy, I can assure you i can finish the entire bowl myself. Some roasted sesame on top will add nice crunch...hmmm yumm

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  18. OK, the cyber-gremlins are at it. MY web page says your recipe of the day is Old Fashioned Banana Pie!! LOL, the cucumber salad looks refreshingly delicious!! What a great side dish.

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  19. I love the thought of adding the sesame seeds. I add some chilli flakes ( if you like the spicy flavour)- or substitute that with pepper.

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  20. That just may be the prettiest cucumber salad I have ever seen!!!

    I never could warm up to cucumbers. Perhaps, I should give them another try!!!

    Thanks for sharing, Katy:) so glad you're back!!!

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  21. Hullo dear,good to have u up and about , hopped here drooling at the banana cream dream pie ,guess the post aint ready but u sure have lods of goodies waiting for me right here...Have a super weekend ....

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  22. How this sings to me - I love all the ingredients and love cucumber salads with lemon and vinegars. I can see this on many picnics.

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  23. Katy- Thanks for emailing me about the rhubarb. That was real sweet of you. I appreciate it. As for this recipe, I do like sweet and sour flavors. It looks very tasty.

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  24. This is a very interesting pickle...thanks for posting... :)

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  25. Katy....love the 'pickles'....for sure I do cause I love cucumbers. What a refreshing little 'side' dish. BTW...I too saw the banana pie and was hiking my way over here for a slice....but that is okay...I am better off with cucumber pickles...grin!

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  26. What a delicious salad attached to such memory! This will be great when my garden is over run with cucumbers!

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  27. Oh, I can't wait to have some fresh cucumbers from garden to try this tasty dish Katy!Thanks for sharing the wonderful memeories that go with this salad!

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  28. Katy, I will definitely try this. I love allt he different salads we have at Japanese restaurants. And of course being Polish I love sour type pickles. Ah heck, I love pickles. Bookmarked!

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  29. Katy, I ADORE cucumbers. They are hand down my fave food. I eat a whole cucumber as a snack :)

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  30. This looks so good! It reminds me of a salad I ate the first time I went out for sushi. Mmmmmm!

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  31. Simple yet healthy.
    http://shanthisthaligai.blogspot.com/

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