This is a refreshing and simple recipe for the ubiquitous Japanese side dish that seems to go well with anything. The sanbaizu, or “three flavors vinegar” dressing, is a delicate balance between sweet, sour, and salty but doesn’t overwhelm the clean and mild flavors of cucumber.
recipe adapted from Shizuo Tsuji’s Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art
きゅうりの酢もみ (Kyuri no Sumomi)
Cucumbers, in paper-thin slices
salt, to taste
- I tried to bring out my inner Morimoto but uniformly slicing cucumber into paper thin slices is more difficult than it seems. My trusty Benriner Mandoline will have to do for now.
Season the cucumber slices and knead lightly for a minute. Let stand in a bowl while preparing the sanbaizu.
Three Flavors Vinegar Dressing
1 cup rice vinegar
1 cup dashi
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
- If you plan to cook Japanese dishes frequently, consider getting instant dashi at your local Asian grocery store. A teaspoon of this granulated bonito flake and kombu seasoning will be enough to make 3 to 4 cups of fully flavored stock in minutes. Instant dashi is also known as dashi-no-moto or hon-dashi.
Combine all the sanbaizu ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer while mixing. Once the sugar is dissolved, cool the dressing rapidly by pouring into a bowl set in a larger bowl filled with ice water.
Drain the cucumbers. Pour enough sanbaizu to moisten the cucumber slices. Gently squeeze and drain a second time to eliminate excess wateriness. Serve at room temperature and add more sanbaizu if desired.