Japanese Cucumber And Ham Salad (Sunomono)


1 cucumber
2 slices lean cooked ham, just under 1/4 in (1/2 cm) thick
scant 1 oz (20 g) fresh ginger; finely grated
4 1/2 fl oz (130 ml) sambai zu dressing (see below)

garnish with:

cucumber fans

for the sambai zu dressing:

2 tbsp Japanese light soy sauce
2 tbsp Japanese rice vinegar or 1 1/2 tbsp cider vinegar mixed with 1/2 tbsp water and 1 tbsp caster sugar
6 tbsp sunflower oil
salt and freshly ground white or black pepper


1. Wash the cucumber and cut off the ends. Take a handful of salt and rub it hard into the skin all over; this will preserve and enhance the green colour.

2. Wipe the skin with a clean cloth. Cut the cucumber lengthwise into quarters. Use a curved vegetable knife or tip of metal spoon to remove the seed-bearing section and a thin layer of flesh beneath it.

3. Cut the remaining flesh and skin into regular, matchstick strips. Cut the ham into matchstick strips of the same size.

4. Using your fingers, mix gently together in a bowl as briefly as possible to avoid breaking up the strips.

5. Cover the bowl with cling film and chill in the refrigerator.

6. Make the sambai zu dressing and stir in the grated ginger. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

7. Just before serving, transfer the salad to small bowls and decorate each portion with a cucumber fan.

8. Serve, handing round the dressing separately.

for the sambai zu dressing:

Make the dressing just before serving: mix the vinegar with 2 pinches of salt and the soy sauce in a bowl.

Beat in the oil, adding a little at a time so that it forms an emulsion, using a small balloon whisk or birch twig whisk. Add freshly ground pepper to taste and serve without delay.

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