Earlier this month, I celebrated my 40th birthday. In the months leading up to it, my husband and local bestie asked me more than once “What do you want to do for your 40th?”. My reply was often “Nothing. Okay fine I want to go to the French Laundry”. But when I thought really hard about it, I realized that for my 40th birthday, I wanted to go home.
And hell yes I still wanted to go to the French Laundry. Which I did, yesterday. But this post isn’t about that.
This post is about tasty cucumber salad, but it’s also about home. Home, mostly, is San Francisco. It’s been my home for 10 years and while the future rich-as-hell Me might have homes all over the world, Normal Me will probably always live here. But home used to be the East Coast, and it’s where most of my family and old friends are. So when thinking about a 40th birthday party here in SF with none of those people in attendance, it just didn’t feel right.
So I booked a trip. And the morning that we woke up in Connecticut, my mom had already been up smoking ribs for dinner that night. That lady doesn’t f*** around. To go with the ribs, she made this oh-so refreshing cucumber salad that had paper thin cucumbers and Asian flavors. I thought about recreating it as soon as I took my first bite.
A few days after getting back from our trip East, I’m making ribs and cucumber salad. I went with my Char Siu Style Ribs, since I don’t have the smoking capabilities of the Big Green Egg (but would love one if you’re stumped on a birthday gift ;)) and this cucumber salad was perhaps the most perfect pairing ever.
Sesame Cucumber Salad
prep time: 15 minutes + 30 minutes to salt the cukes
cook time: none, but it’s even better after a few hours in the fridge
yield: 2 large or 4 small servings (easily doubled)
1 large English cucumber
1/2 teaspoon finely ground sea salt
2 tablespoons coconut aminos
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon fish sauce
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced cilantro
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- Slice the cucumber as thinly as possible, preferably using a mandolin.
- In a colander, toss the sliced cucumber with the salt and place in the sink or over a bowl. Allow to sit for about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine the coconut aminos, apple cider vinegar, sesame oil, fish sauce, scallions, and cilantro in a medium bowl.
- After 30 minutes, transfer the cucumbers to the bowl with the dressing- Use your hands to do this, squeezing any extra liquid from the cucumbers as you go.
- Mix the cucumbers into the dressing. If serving right away, stir in the sesame seeds. If not, refrigerate and stir in the sesame seeds just before serving*
- Season to taste with additional salt, fish sauce, or sesame oil.
*This salad is good right away, but even better after being refrigerated for several hours or overnight. Either way, strain excess liquid before stirring in the sesame seeds.
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