Have you been outside lately? I am sitting indoors at the computer with the AC blowing full blast. Just looking out the window makes me glisten.
How do I remedy this thermal warfare? Cucumbers.
Cucumbers are magical. They have the power to cool you in the deepest of heat. But in this salad, paradoxically, they are also the source of deep heat as they are drenched in piquant oils and chiles. The vinegar + red pepper flakes provide a surprisingly potent punch of fire + tang to the cucumber ribbons, making this Spicy Asian Cucumber Salad one of our favorites.
About cucumbers: The recipe calls for either 1 large cucumber or 2 English cucumbers. English cucumbers were cultivated as a more refined cucumber–one without bitterness, large seeds, and tough skin. You will also find them labeled as seedless, hothouse, European, or burpless cucumbers. Using a wide vegetable peeler, I cut the cucumbers lengthwise into long ribbons. I do not peel the cuke because I think the green edges look fantastic. If you really want to have fun, though, cut the cucumbers into curls like Karen does here. English cucumbers may not need to go through a “salting process” because they do not have as much water as standard cukes. As a result, you probably will not need to drain the water from the bowl after slicing them. But if you do have a lot of cucumber water, use it to make yourself a delicious gimlet.
About adding more heat: You have a lot of options for how you may add heat to this salad. I suggest making it as written. Then if you think you need more hair on your chest, choose 1 or 2 of these suggestions (or 3 or 4 if you are a glut or masochist).
- teaspoon or so of sriracha
- Thai dried chiles (more)
- hot sesame oil
- Sichuan peppercorns (more)
- red pepper flakes (more)
This Spicy Asian Cucumber Salad is crunchy + refreshing with a flair of Asian flavor. It can stand alone topped with poached salmon, but it is also a cool complement to a dish of beef or pork like these Sticky Honey+ Hoisin Lacquered Ribs .
Happy summering, everyone!
If you make this Spicy Asian Cucumber Salad, I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment below, tag #nakedepicurean on Instagram, and Pin this to your favorite recipe board so we can celebrate together!
Spicy Asian Cucumber Salad (for 2-4)
- 1 large or 2 medium European cucumbers
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 3-5 Thai dried chiles
- ½ jalapeño, minced
- 7 Sichuan peppercorns, slightly smashed with the bottom of a pan
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves, torn
- dash of red pepper flakes
- sesame seeds (optional)
1. Using a vegetable peeler, slice the cucumbers lengthwise into long ribbons. Place in a medium bowl and sprinkle with salt.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar and sugar until sugar dissolves. Add oil, chiles, jalapeño, and peppercorns. Pour over the cucumbers. Mix well. Sprinkle with cilantro leaves, red pepper flakes, and sesame seeds (optional).