Chinese cucumber salad

Chinese cucumber salad sounds like a classic, and it is, but did you know there are several spins on the simple dish? If you frequent Asian fusion restaurants, you’ve probably noticed that not all cucumber salads inform your taste buds with the same hot details. That’s because the dressings vary according to recipe and each has its own dominant flavor to savor.

Delighting in a cucumber salad is adored in any dining experience, but it’s also a super simple recipe to memorize and whip up at home for guests. Robust salads can make light summer entrees, or you can offer the Sichuan classic as a side to a variety of main courses (see end of post for pairings).

If you get to know your meal plan and recipes well enough, you can add a pinch of personal flare to wow your eaters. 

Spicing up your Sichuan cucumber salad

A few ways to put a spin on the cucumber salad are adding heat, sesame or a bit tang with hot-and-sour. Any option is as scrumptious as the next, but choose the one that’s best for your guests and menu. Each flavor brings its own punch, and you want it to slide right in with the rest of the evening’s indulgences.

How to prepare a Chinese cucumber salad recipe

Most Popular Chinese Cucumber Salad Recipes

Below, you can find a classic, go-to Sichuan cucumber recipe that suits any of the ingredient listings. In the ingredients, you’ll see three sections – one of each spice selection of the salad.

Before preparing the recipe, make sure you have the ingredients needed for the salad dressing you’ve chosen.

Check out the Sichuan switch-ups below:

Hot-and-sour Ingredients

  •     1 cucumber (11 oz.; chopped into 1/8 inch slices)
  •     1 tsp kosher salt
  •     1-2 pickled red chilies (be sure to slice thinly)
  •     One-fourth cup Chinese white rice vinegar
  •     1/2 tsp sugar
  •     2 tbsp water

Mala

  •     1 medium English cucumber (about 11 oz.; two cups chopped)
  •     1 tsp kosher salt
  •     1 tsp white rice vinegar
  •     Two tbsp vegetable oil
  •     1/2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
  •     6-8 red chilies (keep or cut in half and keep seeds for added heat)

Sesame

  •     1 medium English cucumber (about 11 oz.; two cups chopped)
  •     1 tsp kosher salt
  •     2 tbsp chili oil (with flakes)
  •     Half-tsp minced garlic
  •     One tbsp suimi yacai
  •     Half-tbsp Chinese sesame paste
  •     1 tsp sesame oil
  •     1 tbsp white rice vinegar

Most Popular Chinese Cucumber Salad Recipes

Directions:

Preparation:

Cucumber

  •     Use a peeler to skin the cucumber in a vertical strip direction
  •     Using a spoon, remove seeds
  •     Cut cucumber vertically in half
  •     Using a heavy knife or rolling pin, hit the cucumber halves on the back
  •     As the skin begins cracking, cut vertically and diagonally until you can fill two cups with bit-size pieces
  •     Place chopped cucumber pieces in colander + add 1 tsp salt
  •     Let sit and drain; 30 minutes
  •     Dab cucumbers dry with paper towel
  •     Transfer to bowl

Dressing:

Hot-and-sour

  •     Add sliced or pickled chillies
  •     Mix rice vinegar, sugar and water
  •     Mix together and lather over cucumbers

Mala

  •     Combine 1 tsp vinegar with cucumbers
  •     In a small wok on medium heat, test for slightly hot temperature by adding a Sichuan peppercorn; when it sizzles, the pan is ready to add oil
  •     Add peppercorns
  •     Cook until sizzling and smelling fragrant
  •     Toss in chili peppers
  •     Toss quickly; allow peppers to crisp without burning
  •     Right away, pour oil and peppers over cucumbers

Sesame

  •     In a small bowl, mix together: rice vinegar, yacai, sesame oil, sesame paste and garlic
  •     Combine with cucumbers
  •     Drizzle cucumbers with chili oil and flakes

Pairing your Spicy Chinese Cucumber Salad

Enjoy a cucumber salad is standard in any sitting, but it makes its best showing when paired masterfully with beverages and main courses. Take a look out our recommendations below for serving alcohol and entrees with this traditional Sichuan dish.

Entrée

A few main courses go particularly well with cucumber salads. Try one of these dishes below:  

  •     Spring roll bowls loaded with red cabbage, cucumber, carrot and avocado. If you’re up for more tedious work, make the spring roll without the bowl.
  •     Sushi rolls make an appropriate pairing for cucumber salads. Select hand-roll or make-roll flavors that best complement your dressing selection (spicy, sweet or savory)

Beverage

Try one of these beverages alongside the simple Sichuan dish. Remember to keep your flavor selection in mind for best results:

  •     Cucumber-gin martini to balance the hot-and-sour flavor of the Sichuan alternative
  •     Jalapeno cucumber margarita to complement a mala or extra spicy Sichuan version
  •     Cucumber-mint vodka refresher for a cool, cleansing effect before diving into the salad or main course
  •     Sake or Japanese beer to maintain authentic flavor throughout the course

Pairing your Spicy Chinese Cucumber Salad

Cucumber Salad Recipe Tips

Check out these tips and tricks when you prepare for Sichuan cucumber recipe:

  •     To keep the recipe authentic, opt for flavorless vegetable oil or use peanut oil; this allows the traditional flavors and Sichuan power to stand out.
  •     For a bit of heat, add extra crushed peppercorns to your flavoring sauce.
  •     Don’t stress about the cucumber smashing; continue to work on smashing to perfection, but the ideal goal is flavor perfection.
  •     If you are particularly spice-inclined, heat up the salad by adding chili oil.
  •     When you strain the cucumber water, save it in a separate glass or dish and use it for an accompanying cucumber-gin martini
  •     Try swapping out rice wine vinegar for aged dark vinegar to give the salad a robust, remarkably authentic taste.  

Picking the Perfect Cucumber

Vegetable quality makes all the difference in flavor impact. As you prepare your salad, choose the best cucumbers to smash. Here are a few tips for selecting:

  •     Look for cucumbers with a firm texture and peel
  •     Choose cucumbers whose green is bright medium to dark; avoid yellow-green or super dark green colors.
  •     If the cucumbers you select aren’t perfect, store them at home for a couple of days

Nutritional Benefits of the Cucumber Salad

With a name like cucumber salad, it’s hard to be unhealthy. Not only are Sichuan salads simple in their ingredient list, but the cucumber also providers eaters with a variety of nutritional benefits. Take a peek at the nutrient benefit list so you know you’re feeding your loved ones well:

  •     Antioxidants content
  •     Lowers blood sugar
  •     Provides anti-inflammatory properties
  •     High nutritional content
  •     Low (super low!) caloric content
  •     May reduce risk of cancer
  •     Improves hydration

Have Chinese cucumber recipes or tips?

If you have a cucumber salad recipe you prepare for your loved ones or tips on the recipes above, we’d love to see it here!  Let us know in the comments.

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