Cucumber Salad With Smashed Garlic And Ginger

Cucumber Salad With Smashed Garlic And Ginger.

Cucumber Salad With Smashed Garlic And Ginger.

Yotam, meet Nancy. Nancy, this is Yotam. You are separated by thousands of miles, but we think you will get along just fine…we certainly hope so.

One of the fun things about cooking and blogging is the volume of recipes we read and cook (we have a obsession thing with cookbooks). And sometimes when we are cooking one recipe, another recipe jumps into our heads as a potential compliment (then again, sometimes we have to look around for a while). In this case we adapted a recipe for Sashimi With Hot Rice and Broth from Nancy Singleton Hachisu’s book “Japanese Farm Food“, and this recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Plenty” immediately came to mind as our salad. We hoped for a good fit.

cukecuke1The fish was a simple, warm, umami-bomb of a dish (but oh so good). We wanted a salad that complimented the savory umami flavors but was also cool and crisp. Few things are as cool as a cucumber (ugh), so we pulled out this recipe that added a serious dose of ginger, onions and garlic to the cukes with a big splash of a rice wine vinegar and sesame oil-based dressing. A very good recipe and one that we would have just as likely seen in Singleton’s cookbook as Ottolenghi’s. Either way, they seemed like a natural match.

cuke6cuke7cuke4And they were quite complimentary. The ginger, onion and garlic are marinated in the dressing for a bit, so you still get their flavor with the cukes, but the harder, hotter edges are taken away. Sesame seeds and cilantro add some depth (we think peanuts would also be good) so the first bite was as good as the last. And the final benefit was timing, this salad was easy to make and took about the same time to prepare as the sashimi in broth. An excellent salad and a good foil to any flavorful or savory main dish.

cuke8cuke9cuke10The only downside of this salad is that, even if the rough edges are smoothed, you are still using crushed raw garlic. It sticks with you for a while. I went to a town council meeting later that night and bet that sitting next to me wasn’t a real treat (or was worse than normal). And when I spoke I could almost see the council member’s eyes water. I would like to think it was my moving oratory at work, but I suspect it was something else… ;-)

cuke12Cucumber Salad With Smashed Garlic And Ginger:

(Adapted, ever so slightly, from Yotam Ottolenghi)

Notes Before You Start:

  • And crisp cucumber will do here. Smaller ones are easier to chop, but just aim for bite sized pieces if using large cukes, it will take just a bit more time.
  • The recipe suggest sunflower oil, but what you really need a is neutral-flavor oil. Olive oil will overwhelm the other flavors and turn an Asian-inspired salad into something else.

Ingredients:

(Serves 4 as a large side salad)

Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil, or other neutral flavor oil
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

Salad:

  • 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 and 1/4 pounds cucumbers (4 medium, 2 large), peeled
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds (or chopped roasted peanuts)
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Assemble:

  1. For the dressing, place all the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until combined. Add the sliced onion and mix until coated. Let sit for 45-60 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, place the ginger and salt in a mortar (or small bowl) and pound well with a pestle (or other implement of destruction). Add the garlic and pound until the garlic is crushed into small pieces, but isn’t quite a paste. Scrape all the ginger / garlic mixture into the bowl with the onions and dressing. Mix until combined.
  3. Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise and then slice, at an angle, into 1/4 inch slices. Add the cucumber to the bowl, followed by the sesame seeds and cilantro. Mix well and let sit for 10 minutes.
  4. To serve, tip out some of the liquid from the salad (the cukes give up a lot of liquid), then stir. Taste and adjust seasoning and serve.
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26 thoughts on “Cucumber Salad With Smashed Garlic And Ginger

  1. Stewart,
    Would roasted garlic throw the whole thing off? I’ve just harvested my crop and roasted my garlic for the year, and I frequently find that the roasted is more mellow, though I understand it can lead a salad in a different direction.
    This looks delicious, and makes me want to save a cucumber out of the pickle brine to try it.
    Thanks!

    • Hi Kirsten,

      Roasted would work fine, I think. I would just go lighter on the sugar in the dressing to counter the sweeter roasted garlic. The ginger and onion are still plenty sharp…my guess is that this version would please more people (particularly those who aren’t in love with raw garlic).

      Thx!

  2. You really are brilliant, you know that? Combining those recipes is inspired and made for a wow sort of dish. So healthy and pretty and I’d bet it has plenty of zing! Can almost smell the ginger and garlic.

    • Gee- thx….I guess we get some payoff for reading all those cookbooks.

      That said, good dish / combo- worth a try. It was a pretty table too..nice colors…

  3. Heheh. Lovely post. This is actually very much like an old Chinese dish that is made to go with hot dishes; a simple de-seeded and chopped cucumber that is tossed in a bit of white vinegar and lots of fresh crushed garlic. It’s one of my favourites; VERY addictive and not one for a pre-meeting lunch. ;-)

    • Not a surprise really…most good recipes come from somewhere else. The recipe seems like a match with what you just mentioned and a japanese quick pickle…we can live with that…a lot of flavor texture without much effort.

  4. This is loads of flavors … and summer for me … something to chicken, salmon … white fish. Great and easy … just like me. *smile

    • ;-)

      Hi Viveka- this dish- or variations is great stuff (as you know). We also served it with smoked chicken and it was a good fit as well…

      Hope you are getting some summer- it is 100 here…ugh…

      • 100 … too hot for a Viking like me – had 92 in Chicago last July, Hot-HOT!!!!
        We had some fantastic days and it has been dry weather for months, but chilly so the farmers has been moaning, but they have got rain now .. can’t complain.
        Haven’t been very active, because my mom passed away in the beginning of the month .. and I lost the urge for blogging .. on my way back now.
        Smoked chicken, love the thought of that.

  5. Mmmm! Nothing beats an “ordinary” cucumber salad, but this looks like it will do the trick. My mother has planted plenty o’ cucumbers this year, so we’ll have to give this one a try.

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