May 10, 2013

"KYUURI" The Japanese Cucumber

Tobiko Tapenade
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"Kyuuri" is the Japanese word for cucumber. The Japanese cucumber is much thinner than American cucumbers, they have smaller seeds, and are often referred to as "seedless". They are not as watery, a lot crisper, and they have a thinner skin. We have both kinds here on Moloka'i, but the Japanese cucumber seems to sell out quicker in the grocery stores, for good reason, they are much better.

Japanese cucumber recipes:

Tobiko Tapenade
Caviar has always been considered a luxury food, sometimes selling for thousands of dollars. Tobiko, the Japanese word for flying fish roe, is relatively inexpensive when compared to other caviars, making it attractive to the budget minded culinary explorer. Tapenade is a popular olive spread eaten in the South of France. The combination of flavors in my recipe, takes this dish out of France, and transports it to Hawaii.

1 1/2 cups pitted ripe olives (I use canned California ripe olives because they are sweeter than kalamata olives)
2 garlic cloves
4 anchovy fillets
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 cup tobiko, (cost about $6.00 on Moloka'i)
2 tablespoons ground roasted sesame seeds
2 Japanese cucumbers

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a food processor. Pulse the food processor until the tapenade is thick but still has texture. Split cucumbers in half lengthwise. With a 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon, remove seeds from cucumber halves. Turn cucumber halves over and with a potato peeler, remove one long slice of peeling on the bottom of each cucumber half so that when this appetizer is served, it sits up flat on a serving plate. Fill each cucumber half with the olive mixture, then sprinkle with ground roasted sesame seeds. Top with tobiko, then cut into 1" bit-size pieces and arrange on serving plate. Serve immediately. Makes about 30 servings.

Japanese Cucumber Sesame Salad
"Sunomono" is the Japanese word for cucumber salad. It's easy to make, healthy to eat, and very refreshing to accompany any main dish.

3 Japanese cucumbers, cut into very thin slices)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, ground

Massage salt into cucumber slices and chill in refrigerator for 10 minutes. Remove from fridge and drain water from the bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients, mix and put it back the fridge for 3 minutes, or until you are ready to eat. Makes 4 servings.

Thai Cucumber Salad with Peanuts
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
2 Thai chiles, thinly sliced
1 small garlic clove, finely grated
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 Japanese cucumbers—halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
1 cup packed cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup salted roasted peanuts
1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
kosher salt

In a small bowl, whisk the lime juice with the fish sauce, sugar, chiles, garlic and oil. In a large bowl, toss the cucumbers, cilantro, peanuts and onion. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt and serve right away. Makes 4 servings.

Cucumber-Radish Salad with Chickpeas
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and freshly ground pepper
1, 19-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 pound Japanese cucumber, thinly sliced crosswise
6 large red radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, lemon zest and cumin and season with salt and pepper. Add the chickpeas and let marinate for at least 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Just before serving, stir in the cucumbers, radishes, onion and parsley and season with salt and pepper. 

Note: The chickpeas can be refrigerated overnight in the dressing; add the vegetables just before serving. Makes 6 servings.

Potato Salad with Cucumber, Dill, & Yogurt
2 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
3/4 cup Greek-style, plain fat-free yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 Japanese cucumbers—cut in half lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup coarsely chopped mint
1 tablespoon chopped dill
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook over high heat until tender, about 9 minutes. Drain, gently shaking out the excess water. Spread the potatoes on a baking sheet in a single layer and freeze for about 10 minutes, just until no longer warm.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the yogurt with the mayonnaise until smooth. Add the cucumbers, red bell pepper, mint and dill. Fold in the potatoes, season with salt and pepper and serve. Makes 6 servings.

Poached Salmon with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce
1 1/2 quarts water
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
3 tablespoons vinegar
1 onion, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
9 sprigs parsley
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon peppercorns
3 bay leaves
3 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 Japanese cucumber, peeled, and grated
1 3/4 cups plain yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
2 pounds center-cut salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces
1/8 teaspoon paprika

In a large deep frying pan, combine the water, wine, vinegar, onion, carrot, parsley, thyme, peppercorns, bay leaves, and 2 1/4 teaspoons of the salt. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium glass or stainless-steel bowl, combine the cucumber and the remaining teaspoon salt. Let sit for 10 minutes. With your hands, squeeze the cucumber and discard the liquid. Put the cucumber back into the bowl and add the yogurt, garlic, mint, and ground pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Add the fish to the liquid in the pan and bring back to a simmer. Simmer, partially covered, until the fish is just barely done (it should still be translucent in the center), about 4 minutes for a 1-inch-thick fillet. Remove the pan from the heat and let the fish sit in the liquid for 2 minutes. Transfer to plates and, if you like, remove the skin. Serve the salmon warm or at room temperature. Top with the raita and then sprinkle the raita with the paprika. Makes 4 servings.

Grilled Marlin with Cucumber-Tomato Salsa
1 1/4 pounds plum tomatoes (about 6), halved crosswise
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 Japanese cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

4 marlin steaks, about 1 inch thick (about 2 pounds in all)

Procedure for salsa:
Light the grill or heat the broiler. Coat the tomato halves with 1 teaspoon of the oil. Grill the tomatoes cut-side up (or broil them cut-side down), until the skins start to blacken, about 10 minutes. Slip off the skins and put the tomatoes in a medium glass or stainless-steel bowl. Add the cucumber, lime juice, dill, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Stir to break up the tomatoes and to combine the ingredients.

Procedure for marlin:
Coat the marlin with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Grill or broil the fish for 4 minutes. Turn and cook until golden brown and just done, 4 to 5 minutes longer. Serve with the salsa. Makes 4 servings.

Linguine with Snow Peas, Cucumber, 
& Peanut Sauce
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 pound snow peas, cut diagonally into thin slices
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 scallions including green tops, chopped
1 Japanese cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced thin
1 1/2 cups bean sprouts (about 1/4 pound)
3/4 pound linguine
2 cloves garlic
2/3 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth, vegetable broth, or homemade stock
2 tablespoons soy sauce

In a blender or food processor, combine the garlic, soy sauce, peanut butter, chicken broth, lime juice, red-pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Puree until smooth.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the linguine until almost done, about 8 minutes. Stir in the snow peas and bean sprouts and cook until the vegetables and pasta are just done, about 3 minutes more. Drain and toss with the peanut sauce, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, the scallions, cucumber, and 1/3 cup of the peanuts. Serve with the remaining peanuts sprinkled over the top. Makes 4 servings.

Ahi Poke with Cucumber & Coconut
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon chili oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 pound fresh sushi-grade Ahi tuna, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup unsweetened dried coconut flakes
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 12-ounce Japanese cucumber, cut into julienne
lime wedges, for serving

In a large bowl, combine the sesame and chile oils and soy sauce. Add the tuna and toss well. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. Put the coconut flakes in a pie plate and bake for about 5 minutes, until the coconut flakes are golden brown.

In a bowl, whisk the coconut milk with the lime juice, fish sauce and light brown sugar until combined. Mound the cucumber julienne on 4 plates. Top with the tuna and drizzle with the coconut dressing.
Sprinkle with the toasted coconut and serve right away with lime wedges. Makes 4 servings.

Ehu with Cucumber Vinaigrette
Ehu is a beautiful red colored fish that is caught in deep water, 700 to 1,000 feet, here in Hawaii. It is also known as the Short Tail Red Snapper. They are sought after for their delicate white fillets. If you can't get Ehu where you live, use red snapper instead.

1 large lemon
4 plum tomatoes—halved, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch dice
1 Japanese cucumber, cut into 3/4-inch dice
1 large shallot, minced
1 tablespoon minced thyme
1/4 cup minced chives
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
salt and freshly ground pepper
4, 6-ounce skinless ehu fillets, or use red snapper fillets (about 1 inch thick)

Preheat the oven to 500°F. Using a small, sharp knife, peel the lemon, removing all the bitter white pith. Cut the lemon into 1/4-inch dice, discarding the seeds. Transfer the diced lemon to a medium bowl and add the tomatoes, cucumber, shallot, thyme and chives. Stir in the 1/4 cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Lay 4, 20-inch sheets of heavy-duty foil on your kitchen counter. Brush the foil with olive oil and set the fish on the foil. Season with salt and pepper and spoon 1/3 cup of the vinaigrette on each fillet. Fold the foil over the fish and crimp to make airtight packages. Using 2 long spatulas, set the foil package on a cookie sheet and roast the foil packages in the oven for about 20 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Salmon Burgers with Green Goddess Dressing
1 1/2 pounds skinless salmon fillet, cut into 1-inch dice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 scallion, coarsely chopped
1 oil-packed anchovy fillet, drained
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped tarragon
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped dill
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons capers, drained
4 hamburger buns, split
8 thin slices of Japanese cucumber
1 large tomato, thinly sliced
1 avocado, thinly sliced

In a food processor, combine the salmon with the lemon zest, 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Pulse until the salmon is finely chopped but not pureed. Form the salmon mixture into four 3/4-inch-thick patties and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, puree the mayonnaise with the scallion, anchovy, tarragon, parsley, dill, lemon juice and capers until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and scrape the dressing into a bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Heat a grill pan or light a grill. Grill the salmon burgers over moderately high heat until cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the salmon burgers to a plate. Grill the buns until toasted.

Spread the buns with the green goddess dressing and set a salmon burger on each bun. Top the burgers with the cucumber, tomato and avocado slices. Close the burgers and serve. Makes 4 servings.

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