Sabtu, 28 Juni 2008

Shaken, not stirred: Estonian Cucumber Salad Recipe

Cucumber salad / Klopitud kurgisalat

Here's a simple Estonian cucumber salad that my mum used to make quite frequently when we were younger. We never knew there was a 'recipe' involved - just a technology - but recently more detailed instructions have appeared here and there, most notably in a rather elaborate cookbook Eesti Rahvusköök or "Estonian national cuisine", also available in English and German. So why not share it with my English readers as well.

What's special about this salad, you may wonder?

Well, although I love the crispiness of a fresh cucumber, sometimes I don't miss that in a salad. By mixing the cucumber slices with salt first, and then shaking the mixture vigorously, the cucumber slices soften nicely, and become almost silky in texture.

How's that for a cucumber salad? :)

Note that caraway seeds are optional. I love them in this salad, but many people outside the region are suspicious of caraway seeds, so these can be omitted. I make mine without caraway seeds sometimes as well. And if I don't feel like, I don't add vinegar either. It's still delicious and makes a nice side dish to grilled and barbequed meat and fish.

Shaken Cucumber Salad
(Klopitud kurgisalat)
Serves 4
Ready in 15 minutes

'Shaken' cucumber salad / Klopitud kurgisalat

1 large seedless cucumber (about 300 g)
0.5 tsp salt
0.5 tsp caraway seeds, slightly crushed (optional)
0.5 tsp 30% vineger
finely chopped fresh dill

Rinse and peel the cucumber, cut into thin slices (ca 3 mm, so not paper-thin). Place in a bowl with a lid, season with salt and caraway seeds. Mix to distribute these evenly and leave to stand for 10 minutes.
Now cover the bowl with a lid, and shake the bowl vigorously for 30-60 seconds. This will soften the cucumber slices.
Drain, discarding the cucumber 'juice'. Season with vinegar (the salad should taste very subtly acidic), scatter the dill on top and serve.