Cucumbers are always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Until today! This Asian cucumber salad gives cucumbers the spotlight.
Delightfully crispy with a fusion of sweet, salty, acidic, and garlic, they’re hard to put down.
A dash of red pepper flakes on top brings the heat and binds all those bold favors.
So, next time you need a quick, easy, and tasty side, give this Asian cucumber salad a try.
Asian Cucumber Salad
Asian cucumber salad is a crispy salad that makes cucumbers the main event.
What I love most about this tasty side dish is it’s so easy to whip up in a flash. It pairs thinly sliced cucumbers with a medley of Asian seasoning.
Vinegar gives it a pickled taste, while garlic and soy sauce add umami flavor.
Topped with a dash of red pepper flakes, scallions, and sesame seeds, it’s the perfect Asian side dish!
I love serving them alongside heavy Asian dishes like beef and broccoli or stir-fries.
If you have the cucumbers ready to go, the rest are just pantry staples. Here’s everything you need for this Asian cucumber salad. Don’t worry, I’ll get into more precise measurements later.
- Cucumbers – Any type works in this recipe. English cucumbers or mini cucumbers are best because they have fewer seeds. Slice them thinly to pick up all that sauce!
- Salt – Add a little salt, and adjust it according to your taste. Cucumbers have a high water content, so salt is a must.
- Rice vinegar – Adding vinegar adds a sour note to this salad. Rice vinegar strikes a perfect balance of sweet and sour. If you don’t have it, white vinegar works, too.
- Soy sauce – Soy sauce adds deep umami flavors and a kick of salt. No Asian recipe is complete without it! To keep your salt intake lower, reach for low-sodium soy sauce.
- Sesame oil – There’s no substitute for sesame oil! It’s a fantastic binding agent and adds nutty complexity to this side dish.
- Sugar – A dash of sugar helps tame those rich notes from soy sauce and garlic. For even more flavor, try using honey instead.
- Garlic – Every good dressing needs garlic! Using raw, fresh garlic adds a little heat and nuttiness to this salad. While you can use canned garlic, fresh is best!
- Chili flakes – Top everything off with a dash of heat from red chili flakes. You can add a little or a lot. It all depends on how much spice you want to bring to the party.
- Scallions – Thinly sliced scallions add sharp, peppery notes to this salad. If you don’t have any on hand, don’t worry! It tastes just as amazing without them.
- Toasted sesame seeds – A sprinkle of sesame seeds adds a nutty crunch and binds all those sharp notes together. It’s like the cherry on top of your savory sundae!
How to Make Asian Cucumber Salad
What I love most about this Asian cucumber salad is how easily it all comes together. Once you chop the cucumbers, the rest is easy peasy. Check out how easy it is to whip up this salad in a jiffy!
1. Prepare the cucumbers. Slice the cucumbers, toss them in salt, and let them sit in a bowl for 5 minutes. This step helps draw out excess water. Then, strain out the water.
2. Make the dressing. Whisk the rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, sugar, scallions, chili flakes, and sesame seeds in a bowl.
3. Combine the cucumbers and dressing. Add the cucumbers to the dressing and toss to coat.
4. Serve. Serve and enjoy!
Tips for the Best Salad
Here are some tips and tricks to ensure your salad tastes as good as it looks.
- Score the cucumbers. Using a fork, score the cucumber lengthwise to create grooves in the skin. This step makes them pretty and helps the sauce get into every nook and cranny of the cucumber.
- Give them a salt bath. Cucumbers have a very high water content, so you want to remove as much water as possible. Tossing the cucumbers in salt and letting them sit for at least 5 minutes is key. If you don’t, your salad will be very watery.
- Crunch it up. Adding honey-roasted peanuts into the dressing is a real game-changer. It adds more sweetness and nutty flavors and a delightful crunch.
- Don’t skip the sesame oil. While you can swap out some components for this recipe, sesame oil is a must! It adds complex and nutty umami flavors not found in neutral oils like vegetable or canola oil.
- Give it some chill time. After you mix your salad, pop it in the fridge to chill. This step allows the dressing to soak into the cucumbers. Plus, cucumbers always taste best when chilled.
This Asian cucumber salad covers all the bases. If you’re looking for something more specific, here are some delicious options:
- Thai cucumber salad – Make the salad per the recipe, but add roasted peanuts, fish sauce, and lime juice. You may want to remove a little of the vinegar so it isn’t overly sour.
- Korean cucumber salad – Want to make this salad Korean? Gochujang to the rescue! It adds rich, earthy, sweet, and sour notes to this dish. Then, cilantro, ginger, and a little extra garlic.
- Japanese cucumber salad – Japanese cucumber salad shines in its simplicity. Omit the garlic and chili paste, and serve it with a big bowl of ramen or sushi. Perfection!
- Extra spicy Asian cucumber salad – Need more spice in your life? Try adding more chili peppers and a kick of Sriracha to taste.
- Asian cucumber salad with seafood – You can also make this salad a full meal with a little seafood. Add your favorite seafood like tuna, crab, or cooked shrimp.
How to Store Asian Cucumber Salad
This cucumber salad is so tasty, it won’t last long! That’s a good thing because keeping this salad fresh for a few days is a little tricky. Here’s how long leftovers will keep.
- To Store: You can keep this cucumber salad in the fridge for up to 4 days. After that, the cucumbers will become soggy and overly salty.
- To Freeze: Sadly, cucumbers and the freezer don’t play well together. Since cucumbers have a high water content, they’ll turn to mush as they thaw.
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