Japanese Cucumber and Crabstick Salad with Creamy Sesame Dressing

Cucumbers have a special place in my heart.

I remember that it was a favorite diet food – cucumber salad – a couple of decades ago when we were college students. As college bud S says, back in those days we thought we were fat, but now we realize we may have been chunky but we were (definitely) not fat.

Anyway, I was killing time at the supermarket sometime ago and I saw organic Japanese cucumbers! I immediately thought of hubby and how much he liked the Japanese cucumbers we had a couple of weeks ago at a Japanese restaurant. I also remember how much I liked cucumbers and suddenly I had a craving for it.  So of course, I bought some.

My mom told me that cucumbers needed preparation otherwise it would exude water and ruin the dish. I assume that the preparation applied to all cucumbers, even the Japanese ones, so after peeling strips of skin then slicing the cucumbers into not-so-thin slices, I tossed them with sea salt. The salted cucumbers sat for about 10 minutes (after which a significant amount of liquid came out), after which they are rinsed and then drained for another 10 minutes.  Pat the cucumber  pieces dry with (a lot of) kitchen towels!  Chill in the refrigerator while making preparations for the rest of the ingredients for the salad,

Recipe:

3 pieces Japanese cucumbers
Sea salt
7 pieces crab sticks (optional)

For the dressing:
3 tablespoons roasted white sesame seeds
2 to 3 tablespoons Japanese mayonnaise
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
½ tablespoon sugar
½ to 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Prepare the cucumbers as mentioned earlier.  Mix the dressing ingredients together then toss with cucumbers.

A side note here – I find that too much dressing tends to overpower the cucumbers and then I feel the salad becomes distasteful.  So I add the dressing gradually. And I tend to usually have leftover dressing.

As far as I am concerned, I am perfectly happy with the salad as is.

But hubby likes crabsticks and asked if we had any. We had about 7 pieces left, so I added them to the salad, and added some dressing as well. Turns out my dressing was just enough with the crabsticks added.

In any case, the addition of the crabsticks served to enhance the salad.  The salad is delicious either way

 

 

Pako Fern Salad

It is the rainy season again, and this means that pako ferns (or fiddleheads) are back in season!  They are best eaten the same day that they are purchased as they deteriorate rather quickly.

00_pako ferns

The pako is traditionally made into a salad.  I used to prepare the salad with the pako raw.  But I’ve since been told (by the market vendor, no less) that the pako ferns, while edible, should be blanched, as they have some form of mild poison.  The market vendor taught me to blanche them briefly in boiling water, just for a few seconds, and then immediately put them in an ice bath.  To dry them, I spin them in a salad spinner.

The recipe:

2 to 3 bundles of pako fern, blanched and chilled
2 large tomatoes, sliced into slivers (seeds removed)
1 large red (Spanish) onion, sliced thinly
2 red (salted) eggs, chopped coarsely
kesong puti, crumbled (or feta)

calamansi vinaigrette, recipe follows

Toss all ingredients, except the kesong puti, together. Chill in the meantime.  Right before serving, toss with the calamansi vinaigrette and garnish with kesong puti.

Other optional ingredient suggestions include cucumbers, slivered green mangoes, and/or garlic chips.

Calamansi Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup native vinegar
juice from 1 large calamansi
1 tbsp. olive oil (optional)
1 to 2 tbsp. crushed mixed peppercorns
2 to 3 pinches of Himalayan pink salt

Place ingredients in a salad dressing shaker (or even a air-tight container) and shake until combined.

Note:  if using regular vinegar, use just 2 tablespoons each of vinegar and water.  Substitute calamansi with lemon if calamansi is not available.