Yakuza Cucumber and Avocado Salad
I first tasted a similar salad at one of my favorite Japanese restaurants, Yakuza Lounge in Portland, Oregon. The way the crisp cucumbers and creamy avocados interacted with the punchy dressing really caught my attention. Although you can make the dressing ahead, you should really assemble the dish just before serving to keep the flavors fresh and the avocados from discoloring. And please don’t skip out on salting the cucumbers; it’s actually an important step. It allows all the extra liquid to drain into the sink instead diluting of your salad.
- 2 English cucumbers, quartered lengthwise, seeded, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 6 tablespoons mirin
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 2 ripe avocados, cut into approximately 1-inch cubes
- 1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon shichimi togarashi, for serving (optional)
Toss the cucumbers with the salt—use your fingers to really combine the salt with all the pieces--in a colander and place it over the sink or an empty bowl. Let the cucumbers stand for about 30 minutes, during which time they will shed much of their excess liquid. Pat the cucumbers dry with paper towels to remove any excess salt and liquid. If they seem really salty (you do want them to taste seasoned), give them a quick rinse; just make sure to pat them dry afterward.
In a small bowl, whisk together the mirin, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and ginger. The dressing will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to a day.
Just before serving, put the cucumbers and avocados on a serving platter. Stir the dressing well and then pour it evenly over the top of the salad. Sprinkle the sesame seeds and 7-spice powder over the top.
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