Michael Black, an army brat, grew up eating his Okinawan mother's cooking in Japan, North Carolina and Germany. When he became a professional chef, he sometimes re-created those dishes with the help of a comprehensive book from the 1970s about Okinawan food, Ryukyu Ryori. Black's mother made this incredibly simple salad with only three ingredients: long, thin Japanese cucumbers, shoyu (Japanese soy sauce) and bonito flakes (shavings of dried smoked bonito, a kind of tuna). Black's version, which he serves at San Francisco's cult Japanese restaurant Sebo, is topped with a lovely sesame-soy vinaigrette and scallions.
Slideshow: More Great Salads