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Sesame cucumber whack salad

Servings: 4 as a side dish
Often, when cucumber salad recipes get you to scrape out the seeds, they don’t really tell you what to do with them. ‘Pour them down the sink’ is the usual assumption. But why must the seeds suffer such a fate, when they’re such a delightfully textural and sweet addition to a dressing? The answer is: they shouldn’t. Pop them in the dressing, or spoon them into your mouth. Whatever you choose to do, leave the sink for the dishes.
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Ingredients 

  • 2 telegraph long cucumbers
  • ¼ cup 60 ml soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove finely grated
  • 1 tsp caster superfine sugar
  • 3 spring onions scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 long red chilli thinly sliced
  • ½ bunch of coriander cilantro, leaves picked
  • ½ bunch of mint leaves picked
  • toasted white sesame seeds to serve
  • crispy fried shallots to serve

Instructions 

  • Halve the cucumbers lengthways, then use a spoon to remove the seeds. Add the seeds to a mortar and use a pestle to break them up slightly. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, mirin, sesame oil, ginger, garlic and sugar to the mortar and mix together with a tablespoon or spatula, then transfer the dressing to a small bowl.
  • Roughly chop the cucumber into 3 cm (1¼ inch) pieces. In batches, gently pound the cucumber and spring onion together using the same mortar and pestle, until the cucumber skins are slightly cracked.
  • Transfer to a large serving platter and toss with the chilli and herbs. Spoon the dressing over, then scatter with toasted sesame seeds and crispy shallots to serve.

Notes

Shortcut
If you’re not in the mood to cut and scoop, use Qukes or Lebanese (short) cucumbers and keep the middles intact – just cut them on an angle and give each slice a sprinkling of salt and a squeeze to help break the cells down.
Extra
To bulk the salad up into a main, stir some cooked soba or ramen noodles through the cucumber mixture, and perhaps top with some shredded chicken or flaked steamed fish.
Recipe appears in In Praise of Veg.

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