Persian Cucumbers with Garlic and Soy Sauce

King of Noodles sits just steps from our apartment. The small, sort of subterranean hole in the wall on Irving at 18th Avenue serves some of the best food in the Sunset. Their lamb noodle soup haunts us. It is the thing that most draws us back again and again. That and an impressive list of hand-filled steamed dumplings (made across the street and delivered fresh throughout the day). More on that another day.

In addition to a number of tasty, hand-pulled noodle dishes, the restaurant offers a few fresh, raw vegetable starters, including this crushed Persian cucumber salad. We love it and think the garlic lovers among you will too!

Persian cucumbers are becoming increasingly available in our local markets. We typically get ours from Trader Joe’s, but our local fresh market at 22nd Avenue & Irving sells them too. That’s where these came from. Persian cucumbers have crisp, dense structures with tiny seeds that you don’t have to remove. They’re tender and not as bitter as garden variety cucumber seeds.

This is as simple a dish as you’ll find. You’ll want to eat this as soon after preparing it as possible to preserve the delicious contrast of cool fresh cucumber and salty soy. The cucumbers will get watery over time and lose their snap if left to sit in the dressing for too long.

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Persian Cucumbers in Garlic and Soy Sauce

4 Persian cucumbers
3 tablespoons soy sauce (we prefer low sodium varieties)
1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 large clove fresh chopped garlic

On a clean cutting board, trim the ends of the cucumbers and cut into inch-long segments.

Using a fork, the back of a spoon, or the side of a knife, gently crush the cucumber segments until they just split in half.

Place the crushed cucumber in a mixing bowl. Add soy sauce, sesame oil and chopped garlic to bowl and gently toss with cucumbers until they’re completely coated with the soy dressing.

Serve immediately.

Kale Tzatziki Dip

While shopping at Trader Joe’s, Jason tasted a new product that they were sampling, a Kale Tzatziki dip. We rarely pick up tubs of prepared anything, since we know we can make it better at a fraction of the cost. Tzatziki is one of our favorite dips; yogurt, cucumber, garlic, and lemon. It’s so versatile and easy to make, that altering the dip with the addition of dehydrated kale would be a snap. The tzatziki is not only great as a traditional dip with pita bread, or a topping for fallefal, but with some slices of avocado and whole wheat toast, the tzatziki makes a great breakfast spread too. We just finished the last of the batch and now we’re starting to have withdrawals. We can still taste the garlic on our breath from breakfast and we’re wishing we had more in the fridge for a snack after work.

Kale Tzatziki Dip

1 32 oz container whole milk yogurt
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced (peel can be left on if organic and unwaxed)
3-4 kale leaves, ribs removed and cut into small pieces
1 small garlic clove
salt & pepper

In a small holed colander line with cheesecloth, place over a bowl and pour the container of yogurt in the cheesecloth. Place in the fridge and allow to sit for several hours or overnight for a creamier, richer texture.

In a preheated 225 degree oven, place the kale pieces on a small baking sheet and place in the oven for 30-40 minutes until crispy. Check every 15 minutes and toss to prevent from burning. Once dried, set aside.

In another colander lined with cheesecloth, place the diced cucumber and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt over the cucumber pieces. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes and up to one hour. At that time, twist the top of the cheesecloth and extract as much water from the cucumbers as possible. Set aside until the yogurt is ready.

Once the yogurt is at the proper consistency, place in a medium bowl with the diced cucumber and dehydrated kale pieces. Using a microplane, grate the garlic clove over the yogurt, then grate the lemon, yellos zest only. Add a small pinch of salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper to the bowl. Whisk together until all ingredients are incorporated; taste and season accordingly. Refrigerate until ready to serve.