This Smashed Cucumber Salad with Ume Dressing is a perfect dish to re-energize the body and mind. It has all the bright flavor and packed with healthy and cleansing properties. I couldn’t love it more!
We’re entering the last weeks of August and I’m reminded to savor the best of the season harvest before summer ends. This Smashed Cucumber Salad with Ume Dressing (たたききゅうりの梅ドレッシング和え) couldn’t have come at a better time.
With a refreshing crunch and bright punchy dressing, this is a feel-good, detox salad that my body’s been craving for.
Why Smashed Cucumbers?
In Japan, smashed cucumber is called Tataki Kyuri (たたききゅうり), and often used in salad and tsukemono (pickles). You may wonder why we have to smash the beautiful cucumbers.
Smashed cucumbers create more surface spaces compared to uniformly cut cucumber pieces. The more open surface the cucumber has, the more flavors would go into the cucumber!
We typically smash cucumbers with a wooden rolling pin or surikogi (Japanese pestle). Once the cucumber starts to crack, we use our hands to tear it further.
This smashed cucumber techniques are also used in Chinese and Korean dishes. Does your cuisine do this trick, too?
Sour, Salty, Yet Refreshing Umeboshi Dressing
We enjoy umeboshi (Japanese pickled plum) all year round, but we especially eat it in summertime. Due to the citric acid and salt, umeboshi has a distinctive sour and salty taste. It is appreciated for its ability to keep harmful bacteria at bay and powerful restorative effects that help you recover from fatigue.
With that in mind, we intentionally eat umeboshi as it helps to replenish the salt and water you might lost on hot summer days.
To make the dressing, we need:
- Dashi stock (or water)
- Soy sauce
Since the cucumbers are kept fresh, we’ll bring the dressing mixture to a boil so that alcohol content from sake and mirin will be evaporated. We want the flavors and umami from sake and mirin, but we do not need the alcohol.
In today’s recipe, I added myoga ginger as I had some in handy. If you don’t have one, you can use a tiny bit of regular ginger for the zing or just leave it out. There’s plenty of flavors in the dressing already.
The salad is simple yet absolutely divine! Not only it is a fresh take on cucumber salad, it is also a breeze to whip up. I love serving it with a cold somen noodle for lunch or with grilled mackerel for dinner.
Other Umeboshi Recipes on JOC
Smashed Cucumber Salad with Ume Dressing
- Gather all the ingredients.
To Make the Umeboshi Sauce
- In a small saucepan, combine all the Umeboshi Sauce ingredients: 3 Tbsp dashi (Japanese soup stock), 2 Tbsp sake, 1 Tbsp mirin, and 1 Tbsp soy sauce. Mix well and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, turn off the heat and set aside.
- Discard the bottoms of 2 myoga ginger and cut into thin slices.
- Make a slit on the flesh of 2 umeboshi (Japanese pickled plums) and remove the seed. With the knife, pound it into a paste form.
- Add the umeboshi paste into the Umeboshi Sauce mixture. Mix to combine and set aside.
To Prepare the Cucumber
- Cut off the ends of 2 Japanese or Persian cucumbers and start mashing the cucumber with a wooden rolling pin or a surikogi (Japanese wooden pestle). The skin will begin to crack and the flesh will break down.
- You can tear the cucumber with your hands and continue smashing until the flesh breaks down to pieces.
- Put the smashed cucumber pieces into a bowl, add the myoga ginger, and pour the umeboshi sauce on top. Mix all together and serve!
- You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Enjoy it soon.