Spicy Asian Cucumber Salad - Imagine fresh cucumbers transformed into mesmerizing spiral slinkies drizzled with a zesty blend of soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and a dash of chili heat. This recipe takes your palate on a spicy, crunchy adventure that's as visually stunning as it is delicious.
Asian cucumber salad can be served as an appetizer. It is refreshing and light, which makes it a great choice to kick off a meal. This dish is also versatile enough to be served as a side dish or enjoyed on its own as a refreshing snack.
Why you'll love this recipe
By now, you've probably seen hundreds of people on TikTok and Instagram making this recipe. But why is it so popular?
- Quick and easy to make: Simple to prepare, making it accessible to a wide range of cooks.
- Versatile: It can be served as an appetizer, a side dish, or a standalone snack.
- Customizable: You can adjust the level of spiciness to suit your taste preferences.
- Unique Presentation: The spiral-cut cucumbers add an artistic and visually appealing element to the dish.
- Flavorful: The combination of spicy, tangy, and savory flavors creates an exciting taste experience that's hard to resist.
- Refreshing: The crispness of cucumbers and the spicy kick make for a refreshingly cool dish, perfect for hot weather.
- Healthy: Cucumber salads are low in calories and packed with hydration, vitamins, and fiber, offering a healthy option.
- Sharp Knife: Used to cut slices into the cucumber to make spiral slinkies.
- Chopsticks: Used to stop the knife from cutting all the way through.
Ingredients Needed and Substitutions
- Cucumbers: Use mini cucumbers. Regular cucumbers are too big and will not work for this recipe.
- Salt: It might look like a lot of salt but this is used to draw out the water so that the cucumbers can retain the dressing and it prevents it from getting soggy. Don't forget to thoroughly wash off all the salt.
- Soy Sauce: Any type of soy sauce will work for this recipe. Adjust to your taste preference.
- Rice Vinegar: To give the dressing its tanginess.
- Sesame Oil: Used for its nutty aroma.
- Sugar: To sweeten the dressing. Adjust to taste.
- Garlic: Adds a bold, aromatic flavor, enhancing the dish.
- Sesame Seeds: Provides nutty, earthy notes and a delightful crunch, adding depth and richness to the flavor. I used toasted sesame seeds.
- Gochugaru (Korean Red Chili Flakes): Gochugaru adds spicy heat and a unique smoky-sweet flavor. It is not as spicy as other chili flakes. If you can't find this, you can also substitute it with red pepper flakes, paprika, or cayenne. Do a taste test before drizzling it onto the cucumbers.
How to cut a cucumber into spirals?
Step 1: Wash and dry mini cucumbers.
Step 2: Secure the cucumber between 2 chopsticks. This will prevent you from cutting through the cucumber.
Step 3: Make thin straight cuts (90 degree angle), about 2 mm apart.
Step 4: Flip the cucumber over (with the unsliced surface facing you), make thin diagonal slices (45 degree angle).
How to make spicy Asian cucumber salad
Step 5: Place the spiral cucumber into a bowl. Add salt to the cucumbers. Use your hands to gently distribute the salt. Place it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Step 6: In the meantime, in a small bowl, whisk together all the Ingredients for the salad dressing.
Step 7: Rinse the cucumbers under cold tap water for 2-3 times and pat them dry with a paper towel.
Step 8: Combine the cucumbers with the dressing right before serving. Serve cold.
Tips for the best Asian cucumber salad
- Choose the Right Cucumbers: Opt for cucumbers that have thin skins and fewer seeds, like English cucumbers. They are less bitter and have a crisp texture that works well in salads.
- Removing Excess Moisture: Cucumbers contain a lot of water, and this can sometimes dilute the flavors of the salad or make it watery. Sprinkling salt on the cucumber and then rinsing it to draw out some of this moisture, which can prevent the salad from becoming overly soggy. By drawing out excess water, the cucumbers become crisper and more firm, improving the overall texture of the salad and helping them absorb the flavors of the dressing more effectively.
- Chill Before Serving: Refrigerate the salad for at least 30 minutes before serving. Chilled cucumbers absorb the flavors of the dressing more effectively and enhance the overall taste.
- Crunchy Toppings: Add extra crunch and texture with toppings like toasted sesame seeds, crushed peanuts, or even fried shallots. These provide a delightful contrast to the cucumbers.
How to store leftovers
It is best to enjoy the cucumber salad right away but if you have leftovers, here's what you can do to maintain its freshness and flavor:
It's better to add the dressing just before serving rather than storing the salad with the dressing already mixed in. This helps prevent the salad from becoming too soggy.
Cucumbers release moisture over time, which can make the salad soggy. Before storing, drain any excess liquid from the salad by using a slotted spoon or a colander.
Refrigerate: Place the cucumber in an airtight container and put it in the refrigerator as soon as possible. The sooner you refrigerate it, the longer it will stay fresh. Cucumber salads are best when consumed within 2-3 days of preparation. Over time, the cucumbers may become softer, and the flavors may change.
Avoid Freezing: Freezing a cucumber salad isn't recommended due to texture changes.
Spicy Asian Cucumber Salad
- 4 mini cucumbers
- 1 tablespoon salt (to remove liquid from cucumber)
How to cut Spiral Cucumbers
- Wash and dry mini cucumbers.
- Secure the cucumber between 2 chopsticks. This will prevent you from cutting through the cucumber.
- Make thin straight cuts (90 degree angle), about 2 mm slices.
- Flip the cucumber over (with the unsliced surface facing you), make thin diagonal slices (45 degree angle).
How to make Asian Cucumber Salad
- Place the spiral cucumber into a bowl and repeat with the remaining cucumbers. Add salt to the cucumbers. Use your hands to gently distribute the salt. Place it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, in a small bowl, whisk together all the Ingredients for the salad dressing.
- Rinse the cucumbers under cold tap water for 2-3 times and pat them dry with a paper towel.
- Combine the cucumbers with the dressing right before serving. Serve cold.