My mother’s refreshing Chinese cucumber salad was often made as part of our family lunches or dinners during my childhood. It’s perfect for hot summer days: the cucumber is light and juicy, yet firm and crunchy. The combination of flavors between the tangy rice vinegar, sweet sugar, and slight heat from the chili flakes blended together makes this dish one of my favorites.
You can eat this delicious Asian cucumber salad with other meat dishes as well as rice; however, I wouldn’t recommend pairing it with soups or porridge since the cucumber won’t be able to sustain its crunch. To keep the cucumbers crunchy, my mother would cut them into thicker pieces; otherwise, it may lose its crunch when soaked in the type of acidic marinade used in this recipe.
Best Type of Cucumber to Use For Chinese Cucumber Salad
One key component to creating my version of this delicious recipe is to use Persian cucumbers. These cucumbers have significantly fewer seeds if none at all, which is the ideal vegetable to soak in this marinade. Japanese cucumbers are sweeter than most others and can be substituted but still have some seeds, which you will need to remove. So if you want to cut down on prep time, use Persian cucumbers; however, if you can’t find any at your local grocery store, Japanese or even English cucumbers are the next best substitute for Persian ones.
Other Variations of Chinese Cucumber Salad
Other versions of this dish include minced garlic, which is a great immune system booster. But just a small warning: since this recipe already has heat from the chili flakes and the acidic bite from the vinegar, the garlic adds another layer of flavor intensity that may mask the refreshing flavors of the cucumbers. However, if you love garlic, feel free to add it in!
Another popular technique that other recipes include is smashing the cucumbers on the flat side and then cutting them into small bite-size chunks. I’ve never seen my mother use this method in her cooking, so for this recipe, I left it out – but you can always try this option if you feel like it’s more of your cooking style.
Additionally, since I prefer low-carb meals, I use monk fruit sweetener for this recipe in place of regular sugar since it has zero carbs and is sugar-free. It’s also diabetic-friendly and keto-friendly, so if you fall into either one of those dietary categories, swap out the sugar for monk fruit sweetener!
Hope you enjoy my version of my mom’s Chinese cucumber salad.
4 small Persian cucumbers (9 oz) – cut the long way about 1 inch long, cut into quarter wedges
1/8 dried chili flakes (optional)
1.5 tsp monk fruit sweetener
2 tsp rice vinegar
¼ tsp sea salt
½ tsp sesame oil
¼ tsp sesame seeds for garnish (toasted is optional)
- Slice the Persian cucumbers vertically into 1 inch long pieces and then into quarter wedges; you can use Japanese or English cucumbers as a substitute. Be sure to remove the seeds in Japanese ones. Set cucumbers aside.
- Pour all the condiments (except the sesame seeds) in the bowl and give it a quick whisk so the sugar and salt dissolve easily.
- Add the cucumbers into the bowl
- Mix the marinade with the cucumbers gently, as you want to preserve the shape. Mix just until cucumbers are evenly and lightly coated.
- Let it sit in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to allow the cucumbers to marinate.
- Add sesame seeds for garnish.
This cucumber salad is a very easy side dish that can elevate other dishes when paired with complementary flavors. If you are looking for more Asian-inspired dishes, check out more of my recipes here. Enjoy!