Salt-Massaged Cucumber With Miso And Sesame Recipe

Jan 6, 2013 3:01 pm

A Japanese take on the quick-brined cucumber

Kyuri momi along with abura miso are, hands down, the quintessential summer dishes of any farm family. My husband calls them his soul food. In the middle of summer we can’t even give away the slender cucumbers and eggplants. Everyone grows them, so summer means eating eggplant and cucumbers in a myriad of ways. They’re said in the same breath: nasu/kyuri.

Before my mother-in-law lived under the same roof, I would stop her at our door when she tried to drop off big bags of each. Somehow I thought of the field as my own private vegetable shop. I could saunter over and pluck a bit of this or that for any meal. I didn’t know that you have to pick the whole row every two days, otherwise the plants stop producing. We wait all year long to eat cucumbers and eggplant and revel in them when we have them in abundance, eating them at every meal.

Photo: Kenji Miura
Photo: Kenji Miura
These savory salted Japanese cucumbers are a typical summer dish for farm families.
Servings: 6


1 3/4 pounds Japanese cucumbers (7 or 8 small)
1/2 tablespoon fine sea salt
4 tablespoons unhulled sesame seeds
3 tablespoons brown rice miso
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
6 shiso leaves
  1. Slice the cucumbers into paper-thin rounds and toss with the salt in a medium-sized bowl. Let sit 10 minutes.
  2. Toast the sesame seeds over medium-high heat in a dry frying pan until they are fragrant and start to pop. Grind the sesame seeds with a suribachi (Japanese grinding bowl) or mortar until most of the seeds have broken down and are almost pastelike. Add the miso and rice vinegar and blend until creamy.
  3. Squeeze the cucumbers by handfuls to express the water, then add to the sesame-miso mixture.
  4. Stack the shiso leaves, roll into a cigar shape, and slice into fine tendrils; toss gently but well with the cucumbers.

Variations: If you can find them, use young sansho leaves sliced from the stem instead of shiso. Or add finely slivered ginger to the cucumbers or ginger juice (grate ginger and squeeze out the juice in your fist) to the dressing.

Check out these other cucumber recipes on Food Republic:

Level of Difficulty: 
Prep Time: 
25 minutes
Cooking Time: 
5 minutes
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