Everyone seems to be posting about their newfangled, extra-awesome cucumber salads, including two of my favourites, Serious Eats (here) and the kitchn (here). So here’s my version, that’d I’ve made every summer for the past 20 years or so. It’s basically cucumbers, vinegar, ginger and sesame oil, and salt.
Unlike the more authentic smashed versions, mine is just chopped for a quick and easy summer side. Smashing cucumbers makes them more like a pickle in texture, and I urge you to try that when the mood strikes you. But this is THE easiest, laziest, tastiest thing you can do to a cucumber.
Oh wait—there’s a surprise. You can dial up your salad with a strange yet wondrous ingredient should you happen upon it in season: sea asparagus.
Sea asparagus is also known as samphire. Other common names are sea beans, pickleweed, or crow’s foot greens. Sea asparagus hits the menus of restaurants on either coast, but is not in common usage in the middle part of the country. It should be. It’s full of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B2, B9, and folic acid as well as calcium, iron, and iodine.
To learn more about it, check out this article in Eat North. Or head over to this delightful blog, Wild Greens and Sardines. I discovered this blog as I was poking around the internet looking for more info, and was delighted to see she has a recipe for sea bean salt. Now there’s a superfood for your morning smoothie!
Some sources recommend you soak your sea asparagus before you eat it to reduce the salt. I say try it first. The batch I received in my local veggie delivery was easy to eat straight up. It was salty, but not unbearably so. It was crunchy and juicy with a mildly briny flavour, not at all like wakame. I popped it in my cucumber salad because it was there. I used a little less salt in my salad dressing and all was tasty and bright.
Summer Cucumber Salad
- 2 English cucumbers
- 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- green onions OR cilantro to top
- toasted sesame seeds, if you like
- sea asparagus, if you have it
Grate the ginger, and mix in a bowl with the vinegar and salt. Toss cucumbers with the dressing, then add the sesame oil and toss once more.
I top it with green onions if we are having black bean sauce on stir-fried beef, cilantro if we’re having satay or Thai curry. Toasted sesame seeds add texture but the point of this is to be quick, so don’t fuss if you don’t feel like it. I used furikake because that’s what I had. I didn’t mention the sea asparagus to anyone and no one balked one little bit. Tell me how you like this version, with or without the sea asparagus!