Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sunomono: Another Foodie-On-A-Diet-Friendly Food

So what do you know, I've lost almost nine pounds since starting this Biggest Loser challenge! Not bad for a food blogger on a diet, eh?

I guess trying to lose weight while being a food enthusiast has its disadvantages as well as its advantages. It's pretty clear what the disadvantages are. It's even worse when you're so tied in to what other food perverts are up to; it takes a lot of self control not to want to eat everything in sight after reading about every one else's food adventures via blogs or Twitter. The advantage of being a food enthusiast trying to lose weight is that I can use my knowledge of food to come up with a wider variety of healthy yet delicious things to shove down my gullet.

Take that salad that I featured in the last post, for example. Now you just bought all this wakame seaweed and shaved bonito, but as tasty as it is, you're not going to eat that salad everyday, right? So what to do with all those ingredients? Luckily, this food lover can tell you right away that you can use both to make sunomono--a light, refreshing Japanese cucumber salad that (you guessed it!) tastes good and is good for you!

The best cucumbers to use for sunomono are Japanese cucumbers because of their minimal seeds and thinner and less watery makeup. Japanese cucumbers can be found at Japanese or other Asian markets, but if you can't find these, you can always substitute English or Persian cucumbers; just keep in mind that your salad may turn out a little less crisp.

For a little extra protein and pizazz, I added some octopus/tako (available already boiled at most Japanese markets) to my sunomono, but if you can't get your hands on any or if tentacles gross you out, the salad is just as good without.

(makes about 4 servings)

-4-5 Japanese cucumbers (use 2 English or Persian ones if you can't find Japanese ones, but really, Japanese ones are the way to go; find them at a Japanese or other Asian market)
-A few pinches of salt
-2 teaspoons dried wakame seaweed
-1/2 cup rice vinegar
-1/2 cup dashi (see below) or water
-2 tablespoons soy sauce
-1 tablespoon sugar
-A few slices of boiled octopus or other seafood (optional)
-Sliced lemon wedges for garnish (optional)
-A pinch of sesame seeds (optional)

*Use a mandoline or knife to cut the cucumber into ultra thin slices.
*Toss with a couple of pinches of salt and let sit for about 15 minutes.
*Soak the dried wakame seaweed in enough hot water to cover. Let sit a few minutes to rehydrate.
*Meanwhile, mix rice vinegar, dashi, soy sauce and sugar together until well blended.
*Quickly rinse cucumbers and wakame with cold water and squeeze out excess water.
*Arrange cucumbers and wakame in small bowl or dish, add octopus if using.
*Spoon a couple spoonfuls of vinegar dressing onto the salad, adjusting quantity to your liking.
*Garnish with lemon & sprinkle with sesame seeds.


*Since this post isn't about making dashi (a post for another day), here's a quick down and dirty version with no pics. Put a 4" square of kombu/kelp in 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil and remove kelp as soon as water boils. Remove from heat. Now remember that shaved bonito you used for your tofu salad? Well take a cup of that and put it in the kelp water and wait until it sinks. Strain, and you've got yourself some dashi stock! (You can also buy the instant kind, but you needed something to make with that leftover bonito, right?)


yutjangsah said...

I love octopus! That looks like a wonderful salad. 10 pounds is 30,000 calories that you've burned up - no mean feat. Congrats. I fatten you up when I see you. It's the Korean in me, I can't help it. I like chubby cheeks and a lil junk in the trunk.

Marisa said...

Great post. I just had this the other night for dinner. Tako sunomono is my go-to when I'm trying to be good, but I've never made it myself. So glad to have a recipe now.

Gastronomer said...

Great job, Pam!! Way to keep up the hard work and healthy eating. That muffin top will be harder than an old baguette before you know it. Did that make any sense?!

Dave -nibbleanibble said...

Octopus is good but with a salad? That's a unique combination. Maybe something to try.

Diana said...

It's definitely an effort to eat healthy in this crazy food blogging dining scene, but you are clearly doing a great job! The key for me is balancing out my indulgent meals out with a lot of healthy homemade meals (which is where the quinoa comes in!). Bravo you! If you ever want to go out for a healthy meal, I'd happily (un)indulge with you! :)

Marie said...

Love sunomono. Keep up the hard work!

diva said...

ah, i can so sympathise! The period after holidays like Christmas, Chinese new year, are always a massive problem for me!! :) Lovely photos and your blog is such a great read. I'm glad I've found it x

Anonymous said...

You just reminded me that I wanted to start a new diet with the new year (-: - Thanks for sharing this recipe. I really feel hungry!


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ab said...

looks good, girl! gonna have to try this.

The Thirsty Pig said...

Tako Sunomono is one of the first things I orde when I am having sushi. Very nice pictures.

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That octopus actually looks delicious because of the color.

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I really want to eat sunomono, this is so an amazing recipe and it is one of my favorites meal to eat at lunch cause it is very high protein food that everyone desires.

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