It is a precious time of a year when these two gourd family vegetables appear at the farmers market at the same time—cucumber and kabocha squash. For me, it feels at home to see them together, as kabocha is both a summer and winter vegetable in Japan, which is quite different from the culture here in the U.S. As people call this squash “winter squash,” this vegetable has a connection with the colder season.
In Japan, kabocha’s season starts in summer and goes all the way to late autumn. As this vegetable can be stored well for a longer time, we enjoy it throughout the winter season. Therefore, there are many different kinds of summer recipes with kabocha squash. As its yellow color and sweet flavor nurture the stomach and spleen, it is also considered to be a beautiful support during the hot and humid summertime when our digestive system can become fatigued. And in the winter season, this vegetable provides us with warming, grounding, softening, and nurturing energy together with its high nutrients.
While the summer and autumn seasons are overlapping here, I cannot help but feel excited to make one of my favorite dishes using these two vegetables—cucumber and kabocha salad with tofu mayonnaise. If you have read my previous articles (here are the links to the articles: link 1, link 2), you know how I am in love with this dish. Back then in the summertime, I have used the last kabocha that I had from last season, but now, both of them are freshly out from the farm!
Finding the alternative way to make this salad without rice bran fermentation bed
How I usually make this salad is to mix the steamed kabocha and fermented cucumber (with the nukadoko—rice bran fermentation bed) with tofu mayonnaise. As I was writing about it in my other articles, I felt somewhat bad, to tell the truth, because I was aware that the majority of readers here are not doing the rice bran fermentation. Since this salad is so delicious, I have been wondering what is the beautiful alternative way so that everyone can enjoy its deliciousness. Should I write a recipe using cucumber pickles…? Or massaging the cucumber with salt? Neither of them felt really right. And I eventually arrived at this beautiful solution—using ume plum vinegar!! The fermented flavor of this vinegar as well as its fresh-sour-saltiness is, indeed, another beautiful way to bring some complexity into the flavor. It is different from using the fermented cucumber, but I found it equally delicious! I am feeling happy that now many people can enjoy this salad.
Massaging cucumber with the ume plum vinegar
How to make this salad is very simple. Steam the cut kabocha squash. Meanwhile, in a bowl, massage the cut cucumber with the ume plum vinegar and let it sit for a few minutes. Then the water will come out from the cucumber. Once the squash is steamed, you can leave it for a little while until it cools down, or you can already mix it with cucumber and tofu mayonnaise if you want to serve the salad with warm kabocha and cool cucumber.
Very easy and absolutely delicious!
I hope many of you will also enjoy it like we do!!
Cucumber and Kabocha Salad with Tofu Majonaise
- 150g Kabocha squash
- 1 Persian cucumber
- 1 tsp ume plum vinegar
- 2-3 tbsp tofu mayonnaise (Find the recipe on my article 'Tofu Mayonnaise')
- Step 1 Cut the Kabocha squash and cucumber.
- Step 2 Steam kabocha squash until it gets tender.
- Step 3 in a bowl, massage cut cucumber with ume plum vinegar.
- Step 4 Once kabocha squash is steamed, you can either wait until it cools down and add it to the bowl, or you can add immediately into the bowl.
- Step 5 Mix cucumber and kabocha squash with tofu mayonnaise.
- Step 6 Enjoy!