Cooks Illustrated suggests massaging kale. “Kneading and squeezing” will break down cell walls. They recommend 5 minutes for standard kale and 1-2 minutes for lacinato and red Russian kale.
Here’s the thing… the Japanese technique of sunomono also uses massage to break down cell walls and make vegetables softer and more tender. The difference is the Japanese method includes salt, which helps break down cell walls and extract moisture, but then rinses the vegetables to remove the excess saltiness.
I think this calls for Sunomono, or Japanese cucumber salad! This dish is great on a hot summer day, served with cold soba noodles and iced dipping sauce.
Serves 2 generously.
- Peel, cut in half the long way and seed one cucumber. Cut into thin slices on the mandoline.
- Mix cucumber and 1/2 tsp salt in a large bowl. Gently rub the cucumbers with salt until they become tender, but not limp, and give away lots of liquid. Gently squeeze the cucumbers to remove any excess liquid. Save the liquid to make a dressing in step 3.
- In a microwave-safe glass measuring cup, measure out the cucumber liquid to get 1/4 cup. If theres too much, pour out excess. If there’s not enough, add water. Mix a pinch of dashi granules, 2 tbsp rice vinegar, 2 tbsp soy sauce and a big pinch of sugar in with the cucumber water. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir to dissolve the dashi and sugar.
- Arrange half of cucumber slices in the center of a bowl. Pour over a generous amount of dressing, leaving a puddle in the bottom of the bowl. If time allows, chill to be ice-cold.