Gurkensalat: authentic German creamy cucumber salad
Cucumber salad (with creamy dill dressing)
This one’s another sappy one- this is my second attempt at this recipe. I always hated my first attempt and meant to refine it, but that fell down the list of priorities and stayed there. For a
couple SEVEN years
I don’t remember Oma’s cucumber salad recipe as vividly as the others I’ve done in the past. So my first attempt was just a modified recipe from the internet and some lazy ass thick chopping. Look at this shit, look how thick those slices are. Did someone drop their vegetable tray and think nobody would notice?
Also that bowl is trash, I can’t remember the last time I used it in a shoot. 2/10
Now look at us. Ya boy made a radish rose!
And got a nicer bowl.
Oh yeah, getting back to the story I had gurkensalat at a German restaurant recently and had a realization- this is just Oma dressing and sour cream!
I tinkered for a bit with the ratios of the dressing and the sour cream. In the seven years since that other recipe I acquired (and promptly cut my finger on) a mandoline. So we have thin, consistent cucumber slices now.
Gurkensalat, also known as Cucumber Salad, is a popular dish in various cultures, particularly in Germany and other parts of Europe. Its history can be traced back to ancient times when cucumbers were cultivated and consumed for their refreshing and hydrating qualities. Here is a brief overview of the history of Gurkensalat:
Ancient Origins: Cucumbers are believed to have originated in India around 4,000 years ago and were cultivated by ancient civilizations like the Egyptians and Romans. These early cucumbers were quite different from the modern varieties, being smaller and often more bitter.
Migration to Europe: Cucumbers made their way to Europe through trade routes and conquests. The Romans were known to have grown cucumbers and even used them for various culinary purposes, including pickling. However, the cucumbers used in ancient Rome were often more like gherkins than the cucumbers we know today.
Medieval Europe: Cucumbers continued to be cultivated in Europe during the Middle Ages, and they gradually evolved into the larger, milder-tasting cucumbers that we are familiar with today. Cucumbers were used in a variety of dishes during this period, including salads.
Emergence of Gurkensalat: The specific dish known as Gurkensalat, or cucumber salad, likely developed in Germany and other parts of Central Europe. Cucumber salads gained popularity in the 18th and 19th centuries as a refreshing Side Dish, particularly during the warm summer months.
Variations: Over time, various regional variations of Gurkensalat emerged. In Germany, for example, you can find variations of cucumber Salad made with different dressings, including vinegar and oil, sour cream, or yogurt. Ingredients like dill, onions, and sometimes tomatoes are often added for flavor.
International Influence: Cucumber salads, inspired by Gurkensalat, have become popular in many other countries as well. In the United States, for instance, cucumber salads are often made with a creamy dressing and may include ingredients like red onions or bell peppers.
Modern Variations: Today, Gurkensalat remains a popular and versatile dish that can be found in restaurants and households across Europe and beyond. It is enjoyed as a refreshing and light accompaniment to a wide range of meals.
The history of Gurkensalat reflects the long-standing culinary tradition of using cucumbers in various dishes, and it continues to be a favorite salad option for those seeking a simple and refreshing side dish.
What are some dishes to serve with cucumber salad?
Cucumber salad is a versatile side dish that pairs well with a variety of Main courses, particularly those that benefit from a refreshing and crisp contrast. Here are some dishes to serve with cucumber salad:
- Grilled Meats: Cucumber salad complements grilled meats such as chicken, steak, pork chops, and sausages. The cool and tangy salad can balance the richness and smokiness of grilled dishes.
- Barbecue: Whether you’re having barbecue ribs, pulled pork, or brisket, cucumber salad provides a fresh and cooling element to balance the bold flavors and heat of barbecue sauces.
- Burgers: A cucumber salad can be a delightful side to serve with hamburgers, veggie burgers, or any type of Sandwich. Its crunchiness and acidity contrast nicely with the savory flavors of a Burger.
- Fish and seafood: Cucumber salad pairs well with fish and seafood dishes, such as grilled salmon, shrimp scampi, or fried fish. The light and crisp salad can enhance the overall dining experience.
- Asian Dishes: Cucumber salad can be an excellent side dish for Asian-inspired meals like sushi, stir-fries, or thai curries. Its refreshing taste complements the bold flavors often found in Asian cuisine.
- Mediterranean Cuisine: It’s a great addition to Mediterranean dishes like gyros, falafel, or grilled kebabs. The combination of cucumber, yogurt, and herbs in some cucumber salad variations complements the flavors of this cuisine.
- Sandwiches and Wraps: Cucumber salad is an ideal side for sandwiches and wraps of all kinds. It can add a refreshing and crunchy element to your Lunch or Dinner.
- Picnic Fare: When you’re planning a picnic, cucumber salad is a great choice to serve alongside sandwiches, cold cuts, cheese, and fresh fruit. It’s easy to pack and enjoy outdoors.
- BBQ and Picnic Sides: Cucumber salad pairs well with other classic barbecue and picnic sides like coleslaw, potato salad, baked beans, and cornbread.
- Vegetarian and vegan Dishes: If you’re serving vegetarian or vegan meals, cucumber salad can be a refreshing and satisfying side to accompany dishes like stuffed peppers, grain salads, or vegetable stir-fries.
- Middle Eastern and Indian Cuisine: It complements Middle Eastern and Indian dishes like falafel, hummus, baba ganoush, tabbouleh, or various curries. The coolness of cucumber can balance the spices and heat in these cuisines.
- Soup and Salad Combos: Pair cucumber salad with a light Soup like gazpacho, vichyssoise, or a cold noodle soup for a refreshing and well-rounded meal.
Remember that cucumber salad can be customized with different dressings and ingredients to match the flavors of your Main Dish. Its versatility makes it a go-to side for a wide range of meals and occasions.
Cucumber salad variations are popular in many countries and cultures around the world.
- Sweden: In Sweden, cucumber salad is known as “pressgurka.” It’s a simple salad made with cucumbers, vinegar, sugar, and dill. It’s a common side dish served with traditional swedish dishes like meatballs.
- Poland: In Poland, cucumber salad, or “mizeria,” is made with thinly sliced cucumbers, sour cream or yogurt, and dill. It’s often served as a side dish, especially with hearty polish meals.
- Russia: Russian cucumber salad, or “салат из свежих огурцов” (salat iz svežikh ogurcov), is typically made with cucumbers, onions, and sometimes dill or sour cream. It’s a refreshing side dish in Russian cuisine.
- Greece: The greek version of cucumber salad is called “tzatziki.” It’s made with cucumbers, yogurt, garlic, and dill or mint. Tzatziki is commonly served with gyros and as a dip for pita bread.
- Turkey: Turkish cucumber salad, or “cacık,” is similar to tzatziki and consists of cucumbers, yogurt, garlic, and mint. It’s a popular side dish in Turkish cuisine and is often used as a cooling Condiment.
- Japan: Japanese cucumber salad, or “kyuri asazuke,” is a pickled cucumber dish made with rice vinegar, soy sauce, and ginger. It’s a common accompaniment to many Japanese meals.
- Korea: In Korean cuisine, there’s a dish called “oi muchim” or “cucumber salad,” which features cucumbers seasoned with garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, and sometimes red pepper flakes.
- Thailand: Thai cucumber salad, known as “ajat” or “taeng kwa brio wan,” is a sweet and tangy salad made with cucumbers, shallots, chilies, vinegar, sugar, and sometimes peanuts. It’s often served with grilled meats or as a condiment.
These are just a few examples of the many cucumber salads enjoyed worldwide. Each culture adds its own unique flavors and ingredients to create a cucumber salad that complements their traditional dishes.
The Greek version of cucumber salad is called “tzatziki.”Quick Trivia!
- 600-700 g cucumber I used field cucumbers, peeled, sliced very thin
- 3 tbsp vinegar white
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp sugar
- pepper small pinch
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 25-30 g dill fresh, chopped 1/4"
- Layer the bottom of a flat bottom sieve or message rack with cucumbers, sprinkle lightly with salt, add a layer and repeat.
- Optionally add weight on top a large pan, chef presses, etc
- Allow cucumber to sit for 10 minutes. The salt will draw out some water so make sure there's something to catch that underneath
- Squeeze the cucumbers up in a cheese cloth or clean kitchen towel, draining them of most of their juices. You want them to keep some juices though, they'll thin the dressing some and infuse it with more cucumber-y goodness
- While the cucumbers are draining whisk together all the dressing ingredients
- Add the drained cucumbers to a container, add the dressing and toss vigorously to combine.
- Refrigerate at least 30-60mins, but ideally over night.
- Serve garnished with a radish rose if you're a fancy boy