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Sesame cucumber whack salad

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: that 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.

YIELDS
4

Ingredients

  • 2 English cucumbers
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 3 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced
  • 1 long red chili, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro, leaves picked
  • 1/2 bunch of mint, leaves picked
  • Toasted white sesame seeds, to serve
  • Crispy fried shallots, to serve

Directions

  1. Halve the cucumbers lengthwise, 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 three centimetres pieces. 
  2. In batches, gently pound the cucumber and green onion together using the same mortar and pestle, until the cucumber skins are slightly cracked. 
  3. Transfer to a large serving platter and toss with the chilli and herbs. Spoon the dressing over, then sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and crispy shallots to serve. Enjoy! 

TIP: If you’re not in the mood to cut and scoop, use Qukes or Lebanese 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. 

TIP: 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 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. 

Excerpted from In Praise of Veg: The Ultimate Cookbook for Vegetable Lovers by Alice Zaslavsky. Text Copyright © 2022 Alice Zaslavsky.Design and Illustrations Copyright ©2022 by Murdoch Books. Photography Copyright ©2022 by Ben Dearnley. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.


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