If food blogging never existed, I'm sure I'd be cooking soy-braised pork belly and chicken, carrot and potato soup for dinner everyday. Those were the few dishes I used to cook back when I was sharing an apartment with friends during college days, when it didn't make sense to stock up the pantry with so many ingredients if I was only cooking for myself (we never shared cooking because our class timetables were quite different, plus I wasn't too confident about my cooking at the time, and neither were they!). I even remember the first cookbook I bought, something along the lines of Step by Step Chinese Cooking. I tried cooking pork rashers with black bean sauce once (before I moved in with my friends) and forgot to open the windows. When my landlady came home to an apartment smelling heavily of garlic and pork, she dashed across the room, opened the balcony doors, ran out and and let out a scream ten floors down the building, gasping for air as though the room was filled with toxic gas. She was also vegetarian, so perhaps that partly explains the dramatic outburst. After that incident, I never cooked pork rashers with black bean sauce again. Not even after moving out six months later.
I'm glad that many years after that, my cooking repertoire has expanded, thanks to living away from home and having to satiate my cravings for home-cooked food (or authentic Malaysian food) by experimenting with various recipes (mostly sourced from the internet), and making G and my sister my guinea pigs by default. These days, I try to look for simple recipes that use few ingredients, and this incredibly easy appetizer of vinegared cucumber and seaweed comes from Just One Cookbook. "Su" means vinegar in Japanese, and so Sunonomo commonly refers to vinegared vegetables or fish. Cucumber and wakame are pretty bland by itself, but the sweet and tangy vinegar dressing makes this dish equally refreshing and appetizing. The wakame has a smooth and slippery texture that is lovely when eaten with the thinly sliced cucumbers.
I have made this delightful appetizer twice so far as both G and I enjoy it very much. It's also a quick and easy supplement to our meals, which have been heavily Japanese-themed for the past few weeks. There are still many Japanese dishes that I'm curious to try out, and so you might be seeing more of them in my next few posts.
Sunomono with Cucumber and Wakame
1 tbsp dried wakame (kelp/seaweed)
1/2 English cucumber (or 1 Japanese cucumber)
1 tsp salt
1 thinly sliced ginger (optional)
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1-2 tbsp dashi stock (or mix water with a pinch of dashinomoto)
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
- Soak wakame in water for 10 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a bowl.
- Peel the cucumber in alternate strips. Then cut in half lengthwise (if you use English cucumber) and slice into very thin slices. If the cucumber is small, just slice it in rounds.
- Sprinkle sliced cucumber wtih 1 tsp salt and rub all over with hand. Set aside for 2-3 minutes. Using your hands, squeeze out excess water from the cucumber. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.
- Combine dressing ingredients in a small saucepan and cook on high heat until the sugar melts completely. Set aside and let it cool down.
- Just before serving, combine the cucumber and wakame in a bowl, add the dressing and toss well. Serve in small individual dishes and garnish with ginger.