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Avocado, Cucumber, Wakame Sunomono

If you know me, even a little, you know that I’m a bit obsessed with Japanese cuisine. One of the things that I love about the cuisine is the amazing things they do with vegetables. Deep-fried, grilled, marinated, stir-fried, parboiled, pickled, and simmered . . . and all done in a million different variations. During this time of year I love a type of salad called sunomono, which translates to literally mean “vinegar-ed things.” It can be made with almost any vegetable and is dressed with a light vinegar or lemon dressing. 

One of the more popular variations of the salad is made with very thinly sliced cucumbers that are tossed with salt so that they express their extra water (and thus don’t make the finished salad watery!) and wakame, a type of edible seaweed. If you’ve ever had miso soup at a Japanese restaurant, you’ve likely tasted wakame, as it’s often included in miso soup with tofu and sliced green onions. Cucumber wakame sunomono is incredibly refreshing and perfect for a Spring or Summer meal. This delicious salad can be made just a little bit better though, in my opinion, with the addition of chopped, fresh California avocado. The sweet creamy cubes of avocado are perfect with the slight crunch of the cucumber, chew of the wakame, and sweet tart vinegar dressing.

Rehydrating the wakame only takes a few minutes, and while that is happening, you can thinly slice and salt the slices of cucumber and make the dressing, then mix everything together and put it in the refrigerator to marinate. One of the great things about this salad is that you can make it the day before and let it sit in the refrigerator, adding the avocado just before serving it. 

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Avocado, Cucumber, Wakame Sunomono Recipe

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons dried wakame
1 hot house cucumber (about 11 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)
1 large, ripe California avocado, cut into ¼-inch pieces

Instructions:

  1. Put the wakame in a bowl and cover it with water. Let it rehydrate while you prep the other ingredients.
  2. Using a mandoline, or sharp knife, cut the cucumber, crosswise, into very thin rounds. Place the rounds in a colander over the sink, sprinkle with the sea salt, and mix together. Let the cucumber slices sit for 15 minutes, then gently, but firmly squeeze the slices to remove excess water.
  3. Drain the wakame and put it in a bowl with the cucumber slices. If the wakame pieces are large, cut them into bite-size pieces.
  4. In a separate small bowl, mix the rice vinegar, maple syrup, and soy sauce together. Pour this dressing over the cucumber and wakame and gently toss to combine. Cover and put in the fridge for at least one hour to marinate before serving.
  5. When you are ready to serve the sunomono, add the avocado pieces and toss to combine, then serve. 
     

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