Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Trio of....Cucumber Salads, Part I

As much as I harassed my friend Katie for bartering for my tzatziki recipe, she was super generous in sharing her cucumber bounty. I took the opportunity to make 3 international cucumber salads, each which share the same initial prep. The first I'll feature, is a Finnish cucumber salad, that I've taken from Moosewood Restaurant's Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant, with some minor modifications. I've included a photo from the cookbook, to illustrate why I needed to create this blog. I annotate my cookbooks to the point of vandalism:
                                                         See all the pencil marks?

To start the 3 salads, I took 4 very large cukes, peeled them (don't peel them if your peels are nice. If your peels are nice, score them with a fork), and sliced them very thin. I threw them in a colander, sprinkled them liberally with salt, and drained for 20 mins or so. They looked like this:

After they've drained, rinse off the salt. In a clean, lintless tea towel or cloth napkin (you'll need several), place a handful of cukes and wring until you've extracted as much water as possible. Put the cukes in a mixing bowl. Continue until all the cukes have had water removed. As a heads up, the other 2 cucumber salads are Japanese and Korean.

Finnish Cucumber & Dill Salad (serves 4-6)

  • 2 large cucumbers, prepared as detailed above
  • 2/3 C sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (I prefer sour cream, but used yogurt since that's what I had. Avoid fat free--low fat is OK)
  • 1 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 Tbs white vinegar
  • handful of minced fresh dill
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • salt & pepper to taste
1. Mix the sour cream or yogurt, oil, vinegar, sugar, dill and pepper together. Keep salt separate for now.
2. Fold into cucumbers.
3. Add salt to taste. 

Kitchen Notes: This tastes best when eaten a few hours after assembled. Try to eat within a day or so, as the flavor diminishes significantly and becomes watery after this. Don't omit the sugar, though it sounds odd. It helps enhance the flavors of the salad and does not create a sweet flavor. I add the salt at the very end, because inevitably some salt remains on the cucumbers after rinsing, so it's hard to gauge how much salt is needed until the salad is assembled.
                                                   It tastes far more attractive than it looks!

Verdict? One of my favorite summer salads, and one I make again, again, and again. Well worth the work, in my view. Very refreshing.

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