This recipe has a special memory for me because the first time I tried it was also the first time I met my husband’s family back when we were dating. Dave’s father Chet had a small collection of recipes that he personally took credit for and Cucumber Sesame Salad was one of those recipes. I think when I fell in love with Chet’s Rhubarb Crunch is when Dave’s parents fell in love with me.
I was already familiar with cucumber salads made with vinegar, but the combination here of rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and soy sauce is more complex and almost earthy. A little sprinkle of sugar for sweetness and crushed red peppers for heat and this salad has every flavor sensation imaginable. I love to pair it with Sesame Chicken and Healthy Sweet and Sour Chicken, but Cucumber Sesame Salad is also delicious with any grilled meat or meatless main dish.
Since first tasting the original recipe, I’ve adapted ingredient quantities a little and I shortened the name. But the typed, original recipe is forever in my collection. Chet had a 1950ish manual typewriter (the original social media device) and he used it frequently to communicate with others, giving “trip reports” after special family vacations, and sharing WWII memories or debating politics with his two brothers. He also would type up recipes he was particularly proud of and if anyone exclaimed over a particular dish, they got their own copy, typed up just for them. Needless to say I have a few that he typed for me since I am a foodie after all… and I wasn’t in any way trying to butter up my potential future father-in-law.
Most recipes typed by Chet would end with his signature “Enjoy!” salutation, so, if you have original recipes from someone who has gone on before… I hope you continue to “enjoy” their company by making the dishes they took the time to share with you.
And after this little story, if you didn’t know it before, you have to know by now that sharing food with others is a wonderful way to pass on your legacy. Why not type up (or better yet, write up) a recipe that you’re proud of and give it to someone who you want to always remember you. Because I promise… they will.
- 2 medium cucumbers, peeled if desired, sliced very thinly
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
- Slice cucumbers and place on paper towel to remove some of the moisture
- In a medium bowl, whisk together all other ingredients and add cucumbers. Stir to coat.
- Taste and add more crushed red pepper flakes if desired.
- The salad may be made up to 4 hours ahead of serving but should be served the day it is made.
Recipe from The Late Chester T. Humeniuk, member of The Greatest Generation. Ever.