Wednesday, 21 May 2008

A few favourite salads: Cucumber, hijiki and daikon salad

The cold spell we had the last couple of weeks is finally over, and it's time to look out the salad bowls and get into some veggie crunching.

This munchy, crunchy salad is one of our favourites and, with its four veggies and one sea veggie, fairly boosts the vegetable intake. The addition of tuna makes it substantial enough to accompany just a piece of grilled chicken or fish (when you can't be bothered cooking much else).

Daikon, the long, white Japanese radish, is eaten raw in this salad. Much milder than red radishes, this root vegetable is used in Japanese cooking all through the year.

According to the dictionary, hijiki (the blackish threads in the photo) is a kind of brown algae, known by the scientific name Hizikia fusiforme. That doesn't sound too appetizing, I know. But this sea vegetable is said to be a rich source of iodine, calcium, iron, silicon, copper, zinc and selenium, and that's not too shabby. When cooked in lightly sweetened soy and dashi stock as it is here, it becomes a savory little bite that will have everyone round the table guessing what it is! Sold, dried, in packets in every supermarket here in Japan, but you are probably going to have to go to a specialist stockist to get it elsewhere.

This recipe is translated and adapted from one in this Japanese book.

Cucumber, hijiki and daikon salad

For 4

10 g hijiki
1/2 cup dashi stock (can be made with dashinomoto stock granules or a dashi pack)
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
2 Japanese cucumbers or 200 g of other types
1/3 carrot
5 cm length of daikon
1 small tin of tuna flakes, drained
1/3 cup frozen corn kernels
4 tbsp mayonnaise, or to taste
2 tsp soy sauce (optional)

1 Soak the hijiki in warm water for a few minutes and drain. In a small pot, cook hijiki, dashi, sugar and soy sauce over low heat until all the liquid is evaporated, stirring occasionally.

2 Slice cucumbers on thinly on the diagonal and wring out some of the juice by hand. Julienne the carrot and daikon.

3 Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl with the mayonnaise, salt and pepper, and the extra soy sauce, if using.


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