Before the pandemic I was juggling a few different jobs, at night I worked as a line cook at Sen Sakana, a Kosher Nikkei restaurant nessled between the corperate buildings of Midtown. Their kitchen is led by Exective Chef Mina Newman and her menu seamlessly blends Peruvian and Japanese cuisine. As a cook fresh out of culinary school, I was mesmarized at how Chef Mina's kitchen operated and how every dish showcased clear influences of both cultures, but presented in a fresh, balanced, modern way. One of her most ordered appetizers is/was the Addictive Cucumber, I made alot of them. The cucumbers are peeled, sliced on a slight bias, then assembled in a row to resemble a sushi roll. It's then dressed in a sesame and aji amarillo sauce and topped with an assortment of sprinkles like crispy quinoa and toasted sesame. The contrast between the cool, crisp cucumber slices with the aji amarillo sauce and crispy quinoa is unmatched! If you are in in New York City, you can make a reservation by clicking here!
The recipe written below is not the original recipe but a variation with ingredients I usually have at home. I blended miso, soy suace, ginger, aji amarillo, lime juice, garlic and sesame oil until smooth. Once blended, taste and season according to your taste buds. Strain for good measure and adjust the consistency with a little bit of water if necessary. It's been 2+ years since I've worked in a restaurant but it's one of those dishes I can't stop thinking about.
Aji Amarillo Sesame Sauce
- 3 tablespoons aji amarillo paste
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seed oil
- 1 tablespoon white miso
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 clove garlic,
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce or tamari
For the cucumber
- 1 seedless cucumber,
- 1/ 2 cup cooked quinoa
- 1 teaspoon olive oil or sesame oil
- Kosher salt to taste
For the Aji Amarillo Sauce
Place all of the ingredients into a blender and process until smooth. Adjust the consistency with a bit of water if necessary and season to taste with salt or MSG.
For the Crispy Quinoa Topping
Add 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa to a 12 inch nonstick skillet with 1 teaspoon oil. Toss to coast and cook on low heat until moisture has evaporated and quinoa is crispy. This may take up to 30 minutes.
Once golden brown and crispy, remove from heat and transfer to a bowl and season to taste with salt.
Using a vegetable peeler, shave three sides of the cucumber lengthwise leaving an inch or so in between strips. Lightly perforate the exposed cucumber flesh with a fork and set aside.
Drizzle prepared sauce over the top and garnish with crispy quinoa and toasted sesame seeds.