Saturday, July 21, 2012

Cucumber Ribbon Salad and A Thousand Cranes Party

Every single one of us can do things that no one else can do -
Can love things that no one else can love...We are like violins,
We can be used for doorstops, or we can make music.

-Barbara Sher

This is a salad I've been making for years. I love it's simplicity. Now that it's summer, there's nothing more refreshing on a hot day than a cucumber. Today is the first day this summer that I've made the salad. It reminds me of a party I had for a few Japanese friends of mine who were getting married. This salad was one of the dishes served. We had a Thousand Cranes Party.

This dish is so easy, here are the dressing ingredients. All in all, less than 5! And takes about 5 minutes to make.

The story of a Thousand Origami Cranes is a Japanese legend that promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane, such as long life or recovery from illness or injury.

The crane in Japan is one of the mystical or holy creatures (others include the dragon and the tortoise), and is said to live for a thousand years.

It is traditional to take the thousand origami cranes and string them up, and hang them at your wedding. Or not just a wedding, one could hang them in your room, even. It's good luck. And it also signifies world peace. It's a prayer in paper form.

You need a mandoline slicer to get the cucumbers really thin.

I read stories of brides folding origami cranes months before their wedding, and mothers of brides helping fold them. Some are given to the bride as gifts.

I knew when I read about this tradition, I wanted my party for my friends to have a Thousand Cranes theme. First I needed some origami cranes to hang. I read about this about a week before the party, so first I consulted Etsy and Ebay to purchase some.

No luck. No one could get them to us fast enough. So my friend Cindy and I started folding origami cranes. How in the heck did we do that, you ask? We consulted U Tube of course! We found a great tutorial on how to make them. Still not super easy, and not the fastest thing to make for a couple of gringos who have never folded origami anything in their life.

Here's our cranes we made hanging in my dining room, with some paper lanterns and streamers.

All in all, we had hundreds of cranes, not a thousand. No matter, it's the thought that counts, right?

We made some bigger cranes to hold our place cards.

I was even able to find crane chopstick holders

The couple was so delighted. They took home our cranes to hang in their new baby's room. We were so relieved they liked them, and were proud the cranes we folded were worthy.

All in all it was such a great and fun party! I love learning traditions from other cultures. 

In the hot weather I like to make cucumber water. Just add sliced cucumbers to ice water and let sit a half hour or so for the flavors to blend. When I drink it I feel as if I'm at the spa waiting for a facial.

Personal Size Princess House Water Pitcher available at my Etsy Shop, House of Lucien.

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Cucumber Ribbon Salad

Make this salad right before eating, if let sit too long it will get soggy.

Recipe Adapted from  Epicurious


1/4 cup (59 ml) seasoned rice vinegar

1-2 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1/2 -1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

 2 English cucumbers (1 1/4 lb total)

Sesame Seeds (optional)


Add all dressing ingredients  (everything except the cucumbers and sesame seeds) in a medium bowl and whisk till blended. Set aside. Slice the cucumbers thin on a mandoline slicer (or another type of slicer, I used this one from Kuhn Rikon, it works well and I bought it at Marshals for maybe 10 bucks, I also have a fancier one, but if you don't own one I think it's work it.) into  1/8 inch thick ribbons. Toss Cucumbers with dressing and top with sesame seeds (if using) and eat immediately.

* edited to add* If you don't have a mandoline, or if you want the salad to last longer and not get soggy, I've been told that just slicing the cucumbers (so they're not so thin) into 1/2 inch slices, will prevent them from getting soggy so fast. If you do that, I'd let the salad sit 30 minutes or so to absorb the flavors.

If you let the dressing sit too long it will get soggy, (longer than about 20 minutes.)


Amber @ The Cook's Sister said...

Love your cucumber salad! I love Japanese-inspired foods. They tend to be relatively simple yet very delicious!

Unknown said...

this looks wonderful.. Found it on Monday link part @ baked in the south.

Julie said...

I am inviting you to come and share this in my Show Your Stuff blog hop:

Sue said...

This salad looks wonderful! Can I use regular cucumbers instead of the english ones?

The Alchemist said...

Sue- The reason English Cucumbers are called for in this recipe is because they have fewer seeds and contain less water. Sure you can use regular ones, but if you are going to use a mandoline, I might first peel them, then slice them with the mandoline without cutting them in half. And stop when I got to seeds, then slice the other side, using the guard, so you don't slice your finger.

If you are just chopping the cucumbers I would also leave most of the seeds out of a regular cucumber.

Shiloh said...

Of all the pics you put up, I'm most excited about the mandolin slicer pic.:) I keep hearing about them, but I never looked them up. Thank you!

Sarah @ Natures Nurture said...

Oooh, that salad looks so tasty and refreshing! I'm pinning it :)

Thanks for sharing at Tiny Tip Tuesday and hope you'll join us again next week!

The Alchemist said...

Sarah, thank you so much!

JoKnows said...

That salad sounds delicious and it looks so very pretty! What a lovely party setting too! Good work!

Miz Helen said...

What a beautiful party for your friend and the Thousand Cranes have such a touching story. Every time I see the Cranes I am reminded of the beautiful gift of Cranes to the Oklahoma City Memorial.

I just love your salad, it looks delicious. Hope you are having a great week and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
Come Back Soon!
Miz Helen

Tobins' Tastes said...

That sounds so light and refreshing. I am hoping to try it soon!

Thanks so much for linking up at Mealtime Monday! Can't wait to see what you link up tonight!


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