Chinese cucumber salad- Crispy umami-packed bites of refreshing cool cucumbers. Just the perfect salad for a hot day. Take this salad to that barbeque party or serve it up as a side dish with a simple Asian meal featuring fried rice or noodles and I m sure the meal will be loved and relished.
Cucumber salad in pretty much every possible way is so IN right now. Cucumber salad in all forms- smashed cucumber salad, crushed cucumber salad, you name it and it’s there. There are recipes that call for black vinegar in the dressing too.
Basically, it is the cucumber gate crashing at every salad party, only in a good way.
We love cucumbers and I always have a few stashed away in my fridge. It is forever hot in Singapore and crunchy cukes have always been our go-to snack since we moved here. So, why not a cucumber salad, eh?
This Chinese cucumber salad was a surprise. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine Soy, Chili oil and garlic to add so much flavor and depth to something so simple as a cucumber. Guess, we have done tofu, paneer and rice with all the umami. It is time to give cucumbers the much-needed umami makeover too.
The main ingredient here is cucumber. I have used Japanese cucumbers but pretty much any variety should work. Choose cucumbers that are tender and those that have fewer seeds. Otherwise, use a corer and remove the seeds and proceed with the recipe.
Other cucumbers that work well here- Persian cucumbers, English cucumbers.
The dressing is pretty much straightforward. All things Umami come together to make for a lip-smacking dressing that reminded me of our Thai style vinaigrette.
And I have used the same dressing to whip up tofu puff salad. Tell me in the comments if you would love to see the recipe.
- One step will make or break this salad- salting the cucumbers. You absolutely must salt the cucumbers and let them sit for 1 hour before you begin making this salad. Salting helps remove the water from the cucumbers, which means your salad wont become soggy or watered-down after chilling it.
- Adding chili oil to the salad has been a game-changer for me. Ever since I tried it in this salad, I have been adding chili oil to pretty much any Asian-inspired dish I make. A word of warning though- Chili oil is super spicy. So go ahead and add it only if you can handle the heat. If you think this is not your game, then try adding red pepper flakes.
- Using the right number of garlic cloves is what makes this salad worth all the hype. Too much of it and you will have something like garlic salad. Too little and it simply won’t make the cut.
- To make an exemplary Chinese cucumber salad, be sure to add lots of fresh cilantro.
Prep the cucumbers
Wash and pat dry the cucumbers. Core them using a vegetable corer and scoop out all the seeds. Now, slit them vertically into halves. Place the flat side of a cleaver on the cucumber halves and smash them. Now cut them into thick diagonals using a knife.
Place all the smashed cucumbers in a bowl and add some salt. Toss well and transfer to a colander. Keep the colander over a bowl and let it rest for 1 hour. This will draw out all the water from the cucumbers. After an hour, discard the water collected. Alternatively, you can make some cucumber lemonade with that water too.
Refrigerate the cukes during this time. That way, we can serve this salad cold immediately.
Wash the cucumbers under running water. This will wash away all the excess salt.
Place the vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, salt, and garlic in a bowl. Whisk well. Add 1 tsp toasted white sesame seeds to this and mix well.
Putting the salad together
Place the cucumbers in a wide bowl. Pour the dressing over it. Add finely chopped cilantro and remaining toasted sesame seeds. Drizzle the chili oil and combine well.
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Chinese Cucumber Salad
- 400 g Japanese cucumbers
- 1 tsp Sea salt
For the dressing
- 1.5 tbsp rice vinegar
- 3 tsp light soy sauce
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tsp Palm sugar Or use any dark brown sugar
- 4 cloves garlic grated
- 1 tsp Toasted white sesame seeds
- 3 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
- 1 tsp toasted white sesame seeds
- 2 tsp Chili oil
Prep the cucumbers
- Wash and pat dry the cucumbers.
- Core them using a vegetable corer and scoop out all the seeds.
- Now, slit them vertically into halves. Place the flat side of a cleaver on the cucumber halves and smash them.
- Cut them into thick diagonals using a knife.
- Place all the smashed cucumbers in a bowl and add some salt.
- Toss well and transfer to a colander.
- Keep the colander over a bowl and let it rest for 1 hour.
- This will draw out all the water from the cucumbers.
- After an hour, discard the water collected.
- Refrigerate the cukes during this salting process
- Wash the cucumbers under running water. This will wash away all the excess salt.
- Place the vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, salt, and garlic in a bowl.
- Whisk well.
- Add 1 tsp toasted white sesame seeds to this and mix well.
Putting the salad together
- Place the cucumbers in a wide bowl.
- Pour the dressing over it.
- Add finely chopped cilantro and remaining toasted sesame seeds.
- Drizzle the chili oil and combine gently.
- Serve immediately.