Cucumber is a fruit (botanically speaking) that’s usually overlooked as an ingredient in preparation. Of course, it’s widely used in everyday Greek, Chinese, Japanese, French salads, but do we really pay much attention to this humble gourd on our plate? It seems that, more often than not, cucumbers are added only because we simply got used to the bulkiness and freshness they add to the dish. And while this might be ok, in general, they are often lost among other stuff.
There are some truly awesome (yet easy) recipes out there that glorify this vegetable (from culinary perspective) and let it shine on its own. Let’s remember cucumber sandwiches, for starters. Traditional English snack for an afternoon tea made as simple as that: thin slices of salted cucumber are placed between two thin slices of crustless buttered bread. This preparation has been modified in modern times. Today one can meet cream cheese, dill, avocado, salmon in between the bread slices which, in turn, can be brown, rye, sourdough, and whatnot. We suggest that you try buying and toasting a baguette, smearing it with crumbly feta, topping it with some sliced cucumber and sprinkling it with olive oil, scallion and spices of your choice. The marriage between the freshness of the cuke and saltiness of the cheese is truly awesome.
Continuing the theme of pairing cucumbers with milky substances, we can’t help but remember an Indian yoghurt-based condiment that’s often used to cool the palate – raita. It goes well with everything: from rice and potato to meat and fish. Traditional recipes call for masala spice, but if you don’t have one, substitute coriander and cumin for it. As for the rest, simply mix yoghurt with grated or chopped cucumber and add chilies if you like it hotter.
The last, but not the least: the summeriest summer dish you can imagine – Korean cucumber soup. It’s cold, it’s refreshing, it’s savoury and it’s so easy to make. What can be more perfect for hot sunny days? To make it, you’ll need to julienne 500 g / 1 lb cucumbers on a mandoline, mix them with seaweeds (if you wish for maximum authenticity), ½ minced garlic, 500 ml / 2 ½ cups water, 2 Tbsp of both vinegar and soy sauce (traditionally, special soup soy sauce and brown rice vinegar are the best, but we’re afraid you don’t have them in your pantry), 1 tsp sugar and 2 tsp sesame seeds and set everything aside. When ready to serve, add ice cubes and season with salt if needed. And that is probably the best way to exalt a cucumber. The soup, by the way, is called oi naengguk. Memorize it and impress your friends.