Among the staples in our vegetarian/vegan pantry are dried seaweeds like wakame, a slightly sweet, slightly salty vegetable that's often used in miso soup and salads. Here, we've taken wakame and cucumbers, a traditional Japanese combination, and added paper-thin slices of crunchy jicama, which many associate with summer salads but is actually in season now. The salad is crisp and refreshing with a nice balance of salty-vinegary-nutty-sweet flavors.
Look for dried sheets of wakame in Japanese or Korean markets and health food stores (Eden Foods is a common American brand).
1/2 ounce dried wakame
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds, divided
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
6 ounces jicama (about 1/4 of a large root), peeled
1 large cucumber, peeled
Place the dried wakame in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Soak for 15 minutes to expand.
Meanwhile, coarsely grind 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds and combine in a small bowl with the rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, and sugar.
Using a mandoline, cut the jicama into paper-thin slices.
Trim the ends of the cucumber and cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Using a mandoline, cut both halves of the cucumber into paper-thin slices.
Drain the wakame and pat off excess water with a towel. Remove any thick center stems and cut the wakame into 1-inch pieces.
In a large bowl or platter, gently combine the jicama, cucumber, wakame, and dressing. Make sure not to toss too vigorously or the jicama slices may break. You may want to layer the ingredients a little at a time, drizzling on the dressing as you go.
Garnish with remaining sesame seeds before serving.
Related: Recipe: Hijiki with Carrots
(Images: Emily Ho)