Spicy Asian Cucumber Salad. A crispy, refreshing and spicy cucumber salad. Seasoned with soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, green onions, sugar, sesame oil, sesame seeds and chili oil. This side dish is ready in 20 minutes!
What is Spicy Asian Cucumber Salad?
It's a refreshing spicy salad featuring crunchy cucumbers in a garlicky, soy, vinegar dressing with chili oil. A quick and easy side dish that serves well with rice and your favourite proteins. I enjoy making this dish for meal prep because it's easy and it lasts a few days in the fridge. So it's perfect for those busy weeknights when I need a fast vegetable side dish. The best part is that it requires no reheating!
This cucumber recipe is inspired by my traditional Chinese smashed cucumber salad. You also don't have to make spiralize the cucumbers - simply slice them thinly. Interestingly enough, my recipe went viral on social media gathering 12M views on Instagram alone with many enjoying it! I hope you enjoy it too.
Please scroll down to below recipe card for exact measurements.
Note: Most Western or Asian grocers will carry these ingredients. You may find some at your select grocery store or online, like on Amazon.
- Mini cucumbers, or 6 Persian cucumbers: or substitute with regular cucumbers, English cucumbers or Japanese cucumbers. My personal preferences are to use Persian cucumbers because they have a refreshing crunch to them! If you're using kirby cucumbers, I wouldn't spiral them and instead smash and slice them because these are thicker.
- Salt: to drain excess liquid or the high water content in the cucumbers. By draining out the moisture content, you will have much crunchier cucumbers. Table salt, kosher salt, or sea salt will work for this.
- Regular soy sauce: or substitute with low sodium soy sauce or light soy sauce. If you’re gluten-free, substitute with tamari sauce, coconut aminos or a gluten-free soy sauce of your choice.
- Plain rice vinegar: or aka rice wine vinegar. Or substitute with white vinegar, white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar or Chinese black vinegar
- Chili oil (store bought or check out my homemade Chili Oil recipe) for spicy flavors! Or substitute with chili garlic sauce, Korean chili flakes, spicy red pepper flakes, or red chili flakes.
- Sugar: or substitute with honey, maple syrup, or any sweetener of your choice.
- Sesame oil: Please avoid using olive oil or heavily scented oils in place of this. I would suggest substituting with a neutral oil like avocado oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil or canola oil.
- Sesame seeds
- Green onions or spring onions
How to Make Spicy Asian Cucumber Salad
First on a cutting board, place cucumber between two chopsticks that you don’t mind nicking up (like takeout chopsticks).
Then make thin diagonal slices on the top. Flip the cucumber over and do the same on the other side.
Then cut cucumber into halves. Transfer to a large bowl. Alternatively, thinly sliced cucumbers will work fine as well.
*Refer to video below for better visuals. Note: Do not cut them in on a straight angle or the spiral will not work.
Salting & Dressing Cucumbers
Next sprinkle salt over cucumbers and gently massage into them. Let cucumbers sit in the salt for 5 minutes at room temperature to remove excess moisture (no more than 10 minutes or they will break down). Rinse with cold water at least 3-4 times to completely remove the salt. Strain excess water and set aside.
Then in a small bowl, combine dressing ingredients.
Finally pour the dressing over cucumbers and gently mix. Enjoy!
This dish will last up to 4 days stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Keep in mind, with time, the cucumbers will become saltier because of the spicy dressing ingredients. So the next day, the cucumbers will taste more salty than the day you made them.
- Use chopsticks to make spiral cucumbers. If you want to make your cucumbers into fun spirals (this is totally optional), use a pair of chopsticks that you don’t mind slightly nicking up, like takeaway chopsticks. Place the two sticks beside both sides of your cucumber and begin slicing on an angle with your knife (must be on an angle or it won't work otherwise). Then flip over and do the same on the other side. Do it slowly and with time you’ll get faster!
- Combine the Sauce. For best results, combine sauce in a small bowl before adding it to the cucumbers. By pre-mixing, we are ensuring an even distribution of ingredients maximizing taste!
- Rinse salted cucumbers well! Because we’re adding more sodium, it’s super important to rinse off the salt from the cucumbers after they have been sitting in it. This step is crucial, or you will have very salty tasting cucumbers.
Can I slice the cucumbers thinly without the spiral?
Yes cucumber slices will work fine for this Asian spicy cucumber salad recipe! I just wanted to share a fun and creative way to showcase these mini cucumbers.
Substitute for sesame oil?
Unfortunately, not one that provides a nutty flavor and aroma. I would simply substitute with any neutral oil but avoid olive oil, coconut oil or heavily scented oils.
Can I use other cucumbers?
Yes, any long slender seedless cucumbers will work.
Do I need to spiralize the cucumbers?
No, feel free to cut the cucumbers into slices.
Can I add other seasoning ingredients?
Yes, red onion or fresh ginger will work too!
Other side dish recipes you may like!
Easy & Quick Spicy Asian Cucumber Salad
- 6 Mini cucumbers or Persian cucumbers
- 2 teaspoon Salt to drain water
- Wash cucumbers and cut off the ends.
- Place one cucumber between two chopsticks that you don’t mind nicking up (like takeout chopsticks). Make thin diagonal slices on the top. Then flip the cucumber over and do the same on the other side. Then cut cucumber into halves. Repeat for remaining cucumbers. Transfer to a large bowl. Alternatively, you can thily slice your cucumbers too. *Refer to video below for better visuals. Note: Do not cut them in on a straight angle or the spiral will not work.
- Sprinkle salt over cucumbers and gently massage into them. Let cucumbers soak in salt for 5 minutes (no more than 10 minutes or they will break down). Rinse with cold water at least 3-4 times to completely remove the salt. Strain and set aside.
- Combine dressing ingredients in a separate bowl.
- Pour dressing over cucumbers and gently mix. Enjoy!
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