Chilled cucumber with sesame miso broth over rice (Hiyashijiru)

Chilled cucumber with sesame miso sauce over rice (Hiyashijiru)

The summers of my youth were often spent on the southern island of Kyushu Japan visiting my maternal grandparents. They live in what used to be a small, rural fishing/farming village about 2 hours from the nearest small airport (which for an island about the size of South Carolina is a long way).

For those of you that haven’t been to Asia in the summer, it’s hot and humid. The kind of “hot and humid” where you step outside and are met by a curtain of sticky, sweat-inducing heat that makes you want to turn right around to go take a shower. The only tolerable times of the day are sunrise and sunset, but due to the mosquitoes that come out at dusk, you really only want to be out at dawn.

Dawn was one of my favourite times in Japan, not just because of the temperatures, but because this was the time my ojiichan (grandpa) would take me fishing off a stone outcropping, and the time that my o-obaachan (great-grandmother) would take me out into the fields to pick cucumbers, daikon, shiso, and other bounties of the summer.

Hiyashijiru

As the day heated up, we’d go back to the shelter of home for breakfast. Here is a recipe for one of my favorite breakfasts from those summers in Japan. Hiyashi-jiru (lit. chilled broth) is a regional specialty of the Miyazaki region of eastern Kyushu. The chilled crunchy cucumbers with the cold miso sesame broth are poured over hot rice which makes for a delightful appetite enhancing breakfast that’s both nutritious and filling.

While traditionally this is made with a fish based dashi, this can easily be made vegetarian by using a kombu (kelp) and shiitake (mushroom) based dashi. If you can’t find fresh Japanese or Lebanese cucumbers where you live, you can substitute a small hothouse cucumber with seeds removed, or other thin-skinned variety of cucumber. The shichimi is entirely optional, but the shiso really does add something if you’re able to find it (try Japanese markets or local sushi restaurants).

for the cucumber
3 Japanese or Lebanese cucumbers mandolined
1 tsp salt

for the broth
1/2 C good quality dashi
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbs ground toasted sesame seeds
2 Tbs white miso
5-6 green shiso leaves cut into a fine chiffonade
shichimi togarashi (Japanese 7 spice chili pepper)

Cover the mandonlined cucumbers with the salt and mix well to combine. The salt helps break down the cell membranes releasing much of the water contained in the cucumber. This effectively pickles the slices making them more crunchy than crispy. Press down on the cucumbers putting a weight on top (a small pan filled with water or a plate and a large can will do). Put it in the fridge for an hour to chill and release most of its juices.

To prepare the broth, make the dashi, adding 1 tsp of sugar to the warm dashi so it can dissolve. Allow it to come to room temperature then add the ground sesame seeds and miso. Place this in the fridge with the cucumbers to cool.

When the cucumbers are ready (you can tell by pressing a slice between your fingers, if it turns translucent it’s ready), squeeze out the liquid with your hands (you could also use a cheese cloth). The more liquid you get out, the crunchier they will be, so do your best to get as much water out as you can. Put the squeezed cucumbers in a bowl and cover with the chilled sauce. Add some of the shiso and mix to combine.

To serve, put some hot rice in a bowl and cover with the cucumbers and sauce, then garnish with remaining shiso and a couple dashes of the japanese chili pepper.

Update: I’m submitting this to the Tastes To Remember event.

  • http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/ Karina

    Looks so light and perfect for summer. Beautiful!

  • http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com Karina

    Looks so light and perfect for summer. Beautiful!

  • http://www.hungryandfrozen.blogspot.com Laura @ Hungry and Frozen

    I love white miso soup – it is what I have for lunch nearly every day – so this could be a nice variation for when I have a bit more time! Also, that method for ‘pickling’ the cucumbers sounds fun…plus I like recipes with a back story :) Japan sounds a bit like Fiji in terms of weather – I spent some time there in winter a few years ago and it was still warm and humid as heck!

  • http://www.hungryandfrozen.blogspot.com/ Laura @ Hungry and Frozen

    I love white miso soup – it is what I have for lunch nearly every day – so this could be a nice variation for when I have a bit more time! Also, that method for ‘pickling’ the cucumbers sounds fun…plus I like recipes with a back story :) Japan sounds a bit like Fiji in terms of weather – I spent some time there in winter a few years ago and it was still warm and humid as heck!

  • http://whiteonricecouple.com/ White On Rice Couple

    I know how hot and humid it can get in Asia. When i went to Vietnam, I got hit hard with weather shock!
    I absolutely love this simple, elegant dish and especially the second photograph. There’s something special about it, I just can’t put my hands on. Beautiful!

  • http://whiteonricecouple.com White On Rice Couple

    I know how hot and humid it can get in Asia. When i went to Vietnam, I got hit hard with weather shock!
    I absolutely love this simple, elegant dish and especially the second photograph. There’s something special about it, I just can’t put my hands on. Beautiful!

  • http://www.practicallydone.com/ helen

    This looks absolutely delicious. I assume there were many simple yet tasty and elegant dishes made from the seafood you caught with your ojiichan? Do share!

  • http://www.practicallydone.com helen

    This looks absolutely delicious. I assume there were many simple yet tasty and elegant dishes made from the seafood you caught with your ojiichan? Do share!

  • http://www.justgetfloury.blogspot.com/ Ginny

    Delicious! Although not quite what we would call breakfast, I would love to try it!

  • http://www.justgetfloury.blogspot.com/ Ginny

    Delicious! Although not quite what we would call breakfast, I would love to try it!

  • AS

    i don’t have much experience with cooking asian food but this sounds so good. can you tell me if white miso is a paste, dry product, or other? thanks!

  • AS

    i don’t have much experience with cooking asian food but this sounds so good. can you tell me if white miso is a paste, dry product, or other? thanks!

  • Marc

    Thanks Karina!

    Laura, Fiji? I’m jealous;-)

    White On Rice Couple, Thanks! I actually think Vietnam gets worse than Japan. I was in Thailand last summer and even at 3am it was still unbearably hot outside.

    Helen, just click on the “Japanese” category in the left bar to see more:-) Typically the seafood we caught just sprinkled with a bit of sea salt, grilled and had with some grated daikon radish and kabosu juice (a type if citrus like yuzu).

    Ginny, yea a bit strange for breakfast by US standards, but give it a try for a light dinner when you feel experimental.

    AS, white miso (as opposed to red miso) is actually a tan colored paste made from salted and fermented soy beans. You should be able to find it at any asian grocery or even the asian section of a larger supermarket (at least here in the US). It can be used to season soups, stir-fry’s and dressings in a similar manner to how you’d use soy sauce(which is also made from fermented soy beans).

  • Marc

    Thanks Karina!

    Laura, Fiji? I’m jealous;-)

    White On Rice Couple, Thanks! I actually think Vietnam gets worse than Japan. I was in Thailand last summer and even at 3am it was still unbearably hot outside.

    Helen, just click on the “Japanese” category in the left bar to see more:-) Typically the seafood we caught just sprinkled with a bit of sea salt, grilled and had with some grated daikon radish and kabosu juice (a type if citrus like yuzu).

    Ginny, yea a bit strange for breakfast by US standards, but give it a try for a light dinner when you feel experimental.

    AS, white miso (as opposed to red miso) is actually a tan colored paste made from salted and fermented soy beans. You should be able to find it at any asian grocery or even the asian section of a larger supermarket (at least here in the US). It can be used to season soups, stir-fry’s and dressings in a similar manner to how you’d use soy sauce(which is also made from fermented soy beans).

  • http://www.sugarbar.org/ diva

    marc, a beautiful post. i can empathise with the hot and humid weather seeing as i was born in southeast asia. mornings are gorgeous, but i think in this time of my life, i can’t appreciate mornings as i do evenings with the sunset. and i remember my dad taking us to the beach, just me, my sister and ol’ pops – picking seashells and fresh cockles as the sun set.

    this makes me so nostalgic somehow. can’t wait to try the recipe too :) x

  • http://www.sugarbar.org diva

    marc, a beautiful post. i can empathise with the hot and humid weather seeing as i was born in southeast asia. mornings are gorgeous, but i think in this time of my life, i can’t appreciate mornings as i do evenings with the sunset. and i remember my dad taking us to the beach, just me, my sister and ol’ pops – picking seashells and fresh cockles as the sun set.

    this makes me so nostalgic somehow. can’t wait to try the recipe too :) x

  • http://closetcooking.blogspot.com/ Kevin

    This sounds refreshing and tasty. I will have to try it. Bookmarked.

  • http://closetcooking.blogspot.com/ Kevin

    This sounds refreshing and tasty. I will have to try it. Bookmarked.

  • http://appetiteforchina.com/ AppetiteforChina

    This looks beautiful! I’m adding it to my must-make list.

  • http://appetiteforchina.com AppetiteforChina

    This looks beautiful! I’m adding it to my must-make list.

  • http://www.tartelette.blogspot.com/ Tartelette

    I ave already bookmarked this for when it gets to the 100F here…soon :( and I can but oly peak my head out of the house! This is perfect for a dinner on the patio!

  • http://www.tartelette.blogspot.com Tartelette

    I ave already bookmarked this for when it gets to the 100F here…soon :( and I can but oly peak my head out of the house! This is perfect for a dinner on the patio!

  • http://sarah-cooking.blogspot.com/ Sarah

    Marc,

    This sounds very appetizing. I love the idea of the chilled cucumbers over the hot rice. Thanks for your submission to the Tastes To Remember event!

  • http://sarah-cooking.blogspot.com Sarah

    Marc,

    This sounds very appetizing. I love the idea of the chilled cucumbers over the hot rice. Thanks for your submission to the Tastes To Remember event!

  • http://www.deliciousbynature.com/ Amy

    This sounds great! I love brown rice for breakfast and this seems like it would be a GREAT addition!

  • http://www.deliciousbynature.com Amy

    This sounds great! I love brown rice for breakfast and this seems like it would be a GREAT addition!

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  • Darya

    It’s been a while since you posted this,  but I was looking for something to make with miso, and I tried this and it was absolutely delicious! Loved it, and will be making it again. (I cannot find shiso around here, but if I ever do, I will definitely try to add it here). Thank you!

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Glad to hear you liked it! It’s one of my favorite foods when it’s hot and humid outside.

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I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!