This is an Asian inspired salad. The dressing has a mix of soy sauce, minced ginger and garlic, cider vinegar and a touch of sesame oil. Wonderful flavours that goes very well together. As it is Japanese inspired, it is best eaten with a bowl of short grained rice and a grilled, steamed or simmered fish or meat. It is a rather healthy salad and you can make it a more substantial and complete meal by adding some firm tofu or sprinkle some crispy fried white bait on it before serving. It does need to be accompanied by that bowl of rice so you can savour every drop of the dressing and those chunky juicy tomatoes. Tomatoes and cucumbers are mere suggestions. You could add avocados too. Boiled potatoes goes very well with the salad dressing as well. Remember to make enough of the dressing to coat all the vegetables.

Tomato Cucumber Seaweed Salad

Prep: 15 minutes 
Cook: 3 minutes to toast sesame seeds (if you are using)
Inactive: 5 minutes
Level: Easy
Serves: 2
Oven Temperature:
Can recipe be doubled? Yes
Make ahead? No

Ingredients

Salad vegetables
2 medium sized tomatoes cut into wedges
1 cup (3.52oz)(100g) seedless cucumber thinly sliced*
1 to 2 Tablespoons of any variety of dried or salt packed wakame (seaweed) for use in salads or soups**
Salad dressing
1 and 1/2 tsp soy sauce***
3/4 tsp vinegar
1/2 tsp neutral tasting oil
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp grated ginger
1/4 tsp grated garlic
Ground pepper to taste
1/2 Tablespoons sesame seeds for sprinkling (optional)
* I use cucumbers labelled as ‘Japanese or Kyuri Cucumbers’. Refer to image below. They are about 1″ (2.5 cm) in diameter and about 10″ (20.5 cm) in length.  Skins and seeds which are underdeveloped can be eaten and are ideal for salads. If you don’t have access to these, you would mostly likely have to peel your cucumbers and if the seeds are large and unpalatable, get rid of the seeds as well.
** Please scroll down to ‘Tips’ to view the 2 variety of wakame that I use for salads. If you do not have wakame and if you had cooked Japanese short grain rice using my recipe in the previous post, Salmon On Rice, where a different variety of seaweed – kombu, was used, this is where you would reuse the still flavourful kombu.
*** I use Kikkoman, Tamari or Bragg Liquid Amino. 

Method

1. Scroll down to ‘Tips’ to find out how to prepare the wakame. If you have kombu/kelp left from cooking the Japanese short grain rice (from the recipe I posted preceding this one, Salmon On Rice), slice the kombu thinly and add it to the salad dressing.
2. Salt the sliced cucumbers with a light sprinkling of salt and let it sit for 5 minutes.
3. Mix the salad dressing ingredients together (except for the ground pepper and toasted sesame seeds). Set aside.
4. In a heated pan (medium high), toast the sesame seeds until it is golden brown. Stir or shake the pan continuously as it burns quickly. Transfer to a plate and do not leave toasted sesame seeds in the pan as it will continue to brown and possibly burn.
5. Squeeze out the cucumbers gently. Discard the liquid. Taste the cucumbers. If they are salty, rinse and lightly squeeze out excess water.
6. In a large mixing bowl, add the tomatoes wedges, sliced cucumbers, wakame and salad dressing. Toss and serve immediately.
7. Sprinkle ground pepper and toasted sesame seeds directly over plated salad.

Tips

Wakame (seaweed)

There are quite a few variety. Some come in pretty coloured fronds but the dark green ones are most common. Usually used in salads and soups. It is sold either dried or preserved in a lot of salt (the latter is still moist to the touch). More often than not, you will find the dried version on supermarket shelves. When buying dried wakame for salads/soups, pay attention to the front pictorial. It should feature the wakame in a salads/soups. The reverse of the packaging should have english labelled ingredients. The reverse of the above bag of Wakame read ‘Fujicco Wakame’. ‘Fujicco’ is the food manufacturer. You might have to wait for Japanese Food Fairs to buy those packed in salt as I hardly see the salt packed wakame on supermarket shelves. If they are, it should be found in the chiller sections.

How to prepare for use
To use those that are dried, soak briefly in water to reconstitute for not more than 3 – 5 minutes (or they will be rather tasteless and slimy) and drain. They do expand rather significantly so be careful with the quantity you reconstitute. If you manage to get those preserved in salt, rinse off the salt thoroughly and soak for not more than 5 minutes to get rid of the excess saltiness. Taste and if it taste fine, that is, not shockingly salty, drain before use. If not soak longer and re-taste. Cut to whatever size you desire before using. Any taste difference between the two? Those packed in salt retains more of the flavour of the sea.

WHAT’S COMING UP NEXT? 

So as to not waste the rest of the bag of kombu/kelp that was used to cook the Japanese short grained rice that was featured in my previous blog post, Salmon On Rice, and to show you how else you could use up the bag of wakame you bought for this salad, the upcoming recipe is for a basic Japanese soup base that is kombu/kelp based. You could then add miso to turn it into a miso soup. Either way, a bowl of hot Japanese soup goes exceptionally well with Salmon On Rice and Tomato Cucumber Seaweed Salad. There, a complete meal!


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