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Japanese Cucumber Salad

Japanese Cucumber Salad
This recipe calls for shiso, a jagged-edged leaf from the perilla plant that is widely used in Japanese cooking. Its flavor is reminiscent of mint and basil. If shiso is not available, you can substitute fresh mint. Serve this salad with our Grilled Miso-Glazed Black Cod (see related recipe at left).

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs. black or white sesame seeds
  • 1 lb. Japanese cucumber, peeled, halved
      lengthwise and seeded
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
  • 3 Tbs. rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 Tbs. scallions, thinly sliced diagonally
  • 1 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh shiso leaves or mint
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

Put the sesame seeds in a dry small fry pan, set over medium-low heat and toast the seeds, shaking the pan frequently, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.

Alternatively, put the seeds in a mesh spice toaster and hold it about 5 inches above a medium gas flame on the stovetop; do not place your hand too close to the flame. Shake the seeds in the toaster until golden brown, 30 to 45 seconds. Transfer to a plate and let cool.

Using a mandoline or a sharp knife, cut the cucumber into 1/8-inch slices. Transfer to a colander, sprinkle with the 1/2 tsp. salt and let stand for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar and sesame oil. In another bowl, combine the cucumber, scallions, shiso and sesame seeds. Add the vinaigrette and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the salad at room temperature or chilled. Serves 4.

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen