This healthful salad combines crisp cucumbers and soft, slippery wakamé (lobe-leaf; a kind of sea vegetation) in a tart dressing. Young, tender tangles of wakamé are harvested in the early spring and the Japanese love to eat this salad on the first warm days of the year.
Soak the lobe-leaf tangle in a large bowl of warm water for 20–25 minutes. It will soften and expand to many times its original volume. Rinse the softened vines under cold water, then pat dry. Remove and discard any tough stems, and chop the lobe-leaf coarsely.
In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, soy sauce and sugar, and heat it, stirring, until the sugar melts. Chill the dressing.
Peel your cucumber, if it is waxed, before slicing it in half lengthwise. If the seeds are very large or numerous, scrape them out. Place the cucumber flat on the board and slice thin. Lightly salt it and let it stand for a few minutes before gently squeezing the slices. Drain off any excess liquid before combining the cucumber slices with the chopped lobe-leaf. Pour the chilled dressing over all and toss. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
© 1986 Elizabeth Andoh. All rights reserved.