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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Easy Vegan and Gluten Free Cucumber and Seaweed Salad (Japanese Sunomono) + MeatlessMonday

Don't let the fact that this might be unfamiliar scare you off. It's not at all difficult, and doesn't require any hard to find or weird ingredients - unless you've never had seaweed, in which case, it might be slightly strange, but it's not scary, I promise! Seaweed is pretty easy to find in the Asian section of most major supermarkets, or at any Asian market.

Refreshing, simple, and healthy, I LOVE Japanese sunomono in a variety of forms. Most sushi restaurants serve sunomono in the form of a vinegar-based, rice noodle soup with a cucumber and seaweed garnish.

But this salad is simply made with dried seaweed and thinly sliced cucumber, with a very simple dressing. It makes for a great side salad on a warm day, or a quick, light lunch.

 For a light, healthy cucumber-themed meal, you could serve this sunomono as an appetizer before serving them with my cucumber sushi rolls! Or steam some carrots and greens and use those as a filler for vegan, brown rice rolls.

I leave out the dashi often used in Japanese soup and sauces, as it usually has MSG in it, and is made with fish flakes, so it's not vegan. I don't think it loses flavour as a result, however. It's still very tasty!

Ingredients for Cucumber and Seaweed Salad (serves 4)

3 Tbsp dried seaweed (like this wakame)
1 long English cucumber, or 4-6 small Persian cucumbers
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sesame seeds (optional)
1/2" fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp white sugar or other equivalent sweetener
1 Tbsp gluten free soy sauce, like Bragg's or Tamari
1 tsp sesame oil (optional. If you're allergic to sesame you'll probably want to skip this!)


1) Soak dried seaweed in water for 10 minutes, until plump and hydrated. Drain and transfer to a medium sized bowl.

2) Wash and peel the cucumber in alternating strips (leaving some green skin for colour contrast), then slice very thinly. Sprinkle cucumber slices with salt, and toss by hand to work some of the salt into the slices. Let stand for 5-10 minutes. Squeeze out excess water and add to seaweed bowl.

3) Mix together dressing ingredients, heating in a small saucepan if needed to dissolve sugar. Let dressing cool before pouring over seaweed and cucumber and tossing salad together. Serve topped with optional sesame seeds or ginger.

* This salad tastes even better if refrigerated for an hour or so before serving, to let the flavours blend.

Have you ever had sunomono or a seaweed dish? 
What's your favourite way to use cucumber?

Did you know the latest novel in my Ancient Egyptian Romances series is available now? Follow the unlikely pair of Ebrium and Satsobek as they journey from the secret recesses of the Temple of Mehyt through the seedy underbelly of Ancient Egypt.

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