Spicy Asian Cucumber Salad (TikTok Viral)

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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.

Chopsticks holding up a spiral cut cucumber with red spicy dressing on it.

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 crisp cucumbers and spicy kick make this dish refreshingly cool, perfect for hot weather.
  • Healthy: Cucumber salads are low in calories and packed with hydration, vitamins, and fiber, offering a healthy option.

Kitchen tools

  • 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 and Substitutions

Ingredients needed for a spiral Asian cucumber salad: cucumbers, salt, sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, gochugaru, garlic, and sesame seeds.

Please scroll ⬇️ to the recipe card to see the full ingredient amounts and instructions.

  • 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 it draws out the water so that the cucumbers can retain the dressing and prevent them from getting soggy. Remember to wash off all the salt thoroughly.
  • Soy Sauce: Any 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 use a gochugaru substitute such as red pepper flakes, paprika, or cayenne. Do a taste test before drizzling it onto the cucumbers.

How to Cut a Cucumber Into Spirals

  1. Wash and dry mini cucumbers.
  2. Secure the cucumber between 2 chopsticks. This will prevent you from cutting through the cucumber.
  1. Make thin, straight cuts (90-degree angle), about 2 mm apart.
  2. Flip the cucumber over (with the unsliced surface facing you) and make thin diagonal slices (45-degree angle).
hands holding the spiral cut cucumber.

How to Make Spicy Asian Cucumber Salad

  1. Place the spiral cucumber into a bowl. Add salt to the cucumbers. Use your hands to distribute the salt. Place it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
  1. In the meantime, whisk together soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, garlic, sesame seeds, and gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes) in a small bowl.
  2. Rinse the cucumbers under cold tap water for 2-3 times and pat them dry with a paper towel.
  1. Combine the cucumbers with the dressing right before serving. Serve cold.
Spiral cut cucumbers tossed in a spicy red asian salad dressing.

Tips for Success

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.

Chopsticks holding up a spiral cut cucumber with red spicy dressing on it.

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.

What to Serve it With

This refreshing Korean cucumber salad can be eaten on its own and also complements Korean BBQ or grilled meats like bulgogi (marinated beef), dak galbi (spicy grilled chicken), or samgyeopsal (pork belly).

Enjoy it alongside a bowl of steamed or spam fried rice. For a vegetarian-friendly option, pair it with stir fried basil tofu for a satisfying and flavorful meal.

RECIPE

Spicy cucumber salad in a bowl and chopsticks holding up one spiral cucumber.

Spiral Cucumber Salad: Korean Style

Quynh Nguyen
Cucumber spiral drizzled with a zesty blend of soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and a dash of chili heat. Spicy, crunchy and refreshing. This side dish is ready in less than 20 minutes.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Resting Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine Asian, Korean
Servings 2 servings
Calories 137 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 4 mini cucumbers
  • 1 tablespoon salt (to remove liquid from cucumber)

Spicy Asian Salad Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (or to taste)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes) (or to taste)

Instructions
 

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, whisk together soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil sugar, garlic, sesame seeds, and gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes).
  • Rinse the cucumbers under cold tap water 2-3 times and pat them dry with a paper towel.
  • Combine the cucumbers with the dressing right before serving. Serve cold.

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Recipe Rating




3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Quick and easy recipe that was a hit at brunch. It was super refreshing and flavorful. Thank you for showing us the 2 chopsticks method it made cutting the cucumber way easier. People raved about the spiral.