Saturday, June 28, 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.


Anonymous said...

Am going to have to try this, most definitely WITH the caraway seeds. Can't sense the flavour or texture. So yes, will be trying this "recipe" during the week. Thanks for posting.

David T. Macknet said...

It sounds delightful - and like something to have for brunch this morning!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Wow -- I've never heard of this technique before. It really speeds up the salting of the cucumber and helps to get rid of the excess liquid. And it's good exercise, too!

Anonymous said...

That's how I love it too!

Prudy said...

My sister lived in Latvia for a couple years, so I know she'd love this! I'm glad I found this recipe. I make the same thing without the caraway seeds, can't wait to try it with.

Tiina said...

That is a very nice summer salad. My grandmother used to make something very similar when I was little.


lobstersquad said...

I think I´ll have to go without carawy seeds. Not for mistrust, I just don´t know if they exist in Spain at all. but the rest is just what we need, very cooling

Farmgirl Susan said...

I love the idea of shaking the cucumbers, Pille. I always learn the most interesting things when I visit your scrumptious blog - and I'm so sorry I wasn't able to meet you while you were in Missouri!

Anonymous said...

Perfect recipe for the summer!

ChichaJo said...

We have a version of this too! Without the caraway seeds (I'm not even sure I can get that here) and dill, and instead black pepper and a tiny bit of sugar :) Nice to see we have common dishes no even if we are so far apart on the map! :)

Susan from Food Blogga said...

"silky texture." That sounds perfect.

Anonymous said...

We make this at home every Summer, I loved your comment on recipe-vs-technology (very nice!).
Our is simply: sliced cucumber, olive oil (a soft 0.4º acidity, not a very powerful virgin here), salt. You can add a bit of vinegar to taste. But we like our crunchy cucumber slices to be crunchy :)
Gotta try this as well (haven't tried the oat flummery, as Barcelona is way to hot for that at the moment...but I'll definitely try it as the weather cools down).

Katie Zeller said...

Very similar to the one I grew up with - although my mother always added chives.
I sometimes add a bit of yogurt to it, as well.
Now I have to try it with the caraway... I think the flavors would be yummy!

Antti said...

My grandmother used to make these - without the caraway seeds - and called them "vanhanajan kurkut" which translates to "cucumbers from the old times". I love them and make them often myself.

Jeanne said...

We're BBQing this weekend and I am DEFINITELY making this wonderfully cool salad. Thanks for the inspiration :)

Anonymous said...

I saw the salad on Ibán's flickr pics.
I love caraway and tested it today, with fresh homemade bread it's delicous!
Here's pic:
Thanks for the idea :-)