Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cucumber and Vidalia onion salad キュウリとタマネギのサラダ

We made this for the 4th of July barbecue among other salads. This is a perfect dish for Swedish Smörgåsbord judging from its white color especially next to marinated herring in sour cream. (Japanese call this type of all-you-can-eat buffet "Viking" which is a catchier name and easier to pronounce, especially for Japanese, while suggesting its origin). My wife said, however, that this is not a Swedish but a Pennsylvania Dutch recipe. She grew up eating this salad in the summer and it was one of her favorites. In any case, this is a very cool refreshing salad for hot muggy summer days. In the original recipe sour creme is used. We substituted yogurt for the sour cream, making it is very healthy to boot. The major flavoring is dill.

I helped by slicing and chopping and did other prep works. My wife essentially was in charge of dressing and seasoning this. The amount and proportion of onion and cucumber is arbitrary.

I washed the cucumbers (American mini-cucues) then rubbed the cucumber skin with salt, rinsed and dried with a paper towel. Since we had 6 cucumbers, I used a Japanese mandoline and sliced it thinly. I added a small amount of salt (1/2 tsp), kneaded it and let it stand for 10-15 minutes. I wrung out the excess moisture but I did not wash away the salt (below left). My wife seasoned it with rice vinegar (about 2 tbs or to taste).

I used Vidalia onion (1 medium) thinly sliced. I added a relatively large amount of salt (3 tsp), kneaded and let it stand for 10 minutes or more (above right). I washed and drained several times in running cold water. I then wrung out the excess moisture and soaked in ice cold water (with ice cubes) for 30 minutes (skip this process if you really like strong onion flavor).

Dressing: My wife added Greek yogurt and finely chopped fresh dill (as much as you like).

The salad becomes better after one day in the refrigerator. Especially since we used yogurt, excess whey may develop, just pour it out before serving. Since we used Vidalia onion and salting and soaking all contributed to very mild almost sweet flavor of the onion. Using American mini-cucumber which is closest we can come to a Japanese cucumber also makes this salad much better than using ordinary American cucumbers. 

Pairing with drinks is not easy. Sake and beer will go with this salad but not any wines.

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