Refreshing Sesame Cucumber Salad with Smashed Garlic & Ginger Dressing

Source: Micki Seibel, May 2012

Source: Micki Seibel, May 2012

This delicious salad makes for a wonderful summer dish. The contrasted pairing of the cool cucumber with the bite of the red onion together combine with the flavors of cilantro, sesame, ginger, and garlic to make a wonderfully refreshing salad for a hot summer day.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 inches ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp large grained sea salt
  • 2 large cucumbers, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 4 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. In a large non-reactive bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sunflower oil, sesame oil, and sugar.

    Source: Micki Seibel, May 2012

    Source: Micki Seibel, May 2012

  2. Add the sliced red onion and let the onion marinate for 1 hour.
  3. In a mortar and pestle, add the ginger and salt and pound to combine. Add the garlic and continue pounding but stop shy of making them a paste.
  4. Add the ginger-garlic-salt mixture to the marinated onions and combine.
  5. Add the cucumber slices, cilantro, and sesame seeds and toss. Let the salad sit for 10-15 minutes.
  6. To serve, stir the salad once more and drain any excess liquid.

How Not to Screw It Up

  1. A friend who was too lazy to buy sunflower oil suggested using olive oil as a substitite. Don’t. Olive oil can overpower the other delicate flavors of this salad. Sunflower oil really is the best. It’s also lower in saturated fat than olive oil and a great source of Vitamin E.
  2. Be patient and let those onions marinate. By doing so, you will cut the bite of raw onions that can overpower the other delicate flavors.
  3. Use a large-grained sea salt to makethe ginger-garlic-salt compound. The large grains will get equally pounded and combined with the ginger and garlic. When it combines evenly, the salt here acts as a flavor enhancer that really brings out the flavors of the ginger and garlic. This is important because in this salad, you want all of the ingredients to be present in the flavors of the final product.
  4. Don’t over-pound the ginger and garlic. We’re not making a paste, we’re just trying to bring out some of their liquid and combine their flavors.